Nowadays, consumption of packaged foods in the diets of people leads to increase in the use and need of food additives. Food additives are substances that are used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food. These additives create a lot of health problems and awareness of consumers about usage of food labeling information is not as such significant. People look at food labels for different reasons. The information about nutrition classification and the health benefits of the food should be one of the important factors to influence decision making. The labels should be closely observed for nutrient content declaration on calories, fat, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and mineral. Low awareness of food labeling, low level of education, influence of media, and non-availability of consumer guidelines on the use of food labeling are few of the reasons because of which many consumers do not read and use food labeling information in purchasing food.
Different people have different food and nutritional requirement, choices and preferences. Some people have health problems that require a certain amount of nutrients and need to avoid certain types of foods or ingredients. Some foods have specific instructions for preparation and use; some require specific storage conditions, etc. Also the production and expiry date on the label indicates the shelf life of different foods. All these suggest the need for consumers to be well informed about the above characteristics of packaged food before purchase and this information is expected to be found on the food label.
Nutrition labeling refers to the standardized presentation of the food for communicating the product information to the sellers.
The Indian food industry is on the brink for huge growth increasing its involvement to world food trade every year. In India the food sector has emerge as a high growth and profit sector. About 32% of the country’s total is from food market.
Food processing industry is of massive implication for India’s development because of the imperative linkages and synergies it promotes between the two pillars of our economy, industry and agriculture. Fast growth in the food processing sector and immediate improvement in the development of worth chain are also of great importance to achieve constructive terms of trade for Indian agriculture both in the domestic and the international markets. The sector however has to go a long way. Even important is the crucial contribution that an efficient food processing industry could make in the nation’s food security for instance the post-harvest losses of selected fruits and vegetables are about 25 to 30 per cent in our country. Even marginal reductions in these losses are bound to give us better returns and thereby improve the income level of the farmers.
In this study, majority of them had awareness about the Consumer Court for the redressal of their grievances in case the packed foods are found defective. But they lacked any specific knowledge about the effects of these chemicals or the FSSAI Product License Number etc. An awareness program about the pros and cons of packaged food is the need of the hour. Knowledge about packaged food should be popularized. It is the knowledge about packaged food which will lead to better usage of the product. Also awareness on reading food labels before purchasing packaged food is important and is the need of the hour.
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