Packaged products as seemingly “healthy” foods

Latest market trends, attempts to satisfy the needs of customers and meeting requirements of food regulatory bodies have propelled many food business to consider convenient packaging for their products.

The busy and packed life schedules of many consumers has positioned packaged foods as the way to go option though a fraction of the market still prefer freshly cooked meals.

Food products are expected to have been subjected to stringent regulatory assessment and approval before commercial sales. In other to meet regulatory requirements, a product must be microbiologically safe, free from heavy metals and contribute to one’s daily caloric needs.

It is therefore not surprising that many consumers assume that a product is safe or healthy once it is properly packaged and or sold in the supermarket. But is this perception always true?

A couple of months ago, I visited the food section in a shopping mall in search of some information as part of a course I was undertaking in Nutrition. As a food scientist and a personal habit, I often look at other food products on the shelf and glance through their ingredient list and nutritional information. I am mostly attracted by a products packaging and or product description.

What we usually do not realize is the fact that there are tons of products on the market especially on the shelves of supermarkets which may be unhealthy. These products sometimes even have the food certification numbers. Back to my experience at the supermarket, I chanced on this product labelled as an Instant Drinking white chocolate powder. I was eager to find out what it entailed at work the next day and therefore wasted no further time in purchasing. Little did I know that I was in for a surprise.

The next day at work, after assessing the ingredients and content of the packaging, we realized the product contained no traces of cocoa or it’s derivative products. It was zero cocoa though labelled Instant Drinking White Chocolate Powder. This was a product well packaged and on the shelf of a supermarket.

One may wonder why we stress on the need to know the constituents of a food product before purchase or consumption. Looking out for the ingredient list of every packaged food you intend to buy enables you to have an upper hand over your health and frankly should become a habit

Just as we are careful not to have our white shirt ruined by stains when worn, we can put in same effort to ensure we do not ingest foods that may ruin our health either in the short or long term.

Technology advancement these days have made accessible to all, various packaging machines that suit several packaging needs of food manufacturers. From paper to box or even tin packaging, small scale businesses and even the bigger food industry have many options to choose from for packaging their products. It is therefore very important not to assess a products quality only by its packaging.

Let’s make these our Golden rule when next we go shopping

  • The shorter the better: foods made with fewer ingredients are mostly healthier
  • If you do not know 3/4 of the ingredients listed, they probably are far from natural
  • Product should be manufactured from a country you can trust and must bear the FDA approval number or it’s equivalent.

Lastly, it is worth to know that even though packaged products are assumed to have some higher quality they may not always be the case. It is therefore one’s duty to do the due diligence in ever food product purchased.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s