New and Improved Foods
~ December 1997 No.30 ~
There are many sources of information for the informed consumer. The most commonly used source is the product label. Although many countries have strict laws about what can and what cannot be included on a label, sometimes the terms that are used are not defined or are so common that it is assumed that everyone knows what they mean. Quite often the consumer is left to interpret what the labeling means. In some cases the wording on the label has specific scientific significance, while in other cases it is only marketing jargon that is being used. Below are a few terms that often appear on labels or in brochures describing a product together with a definition or description of what the word means.
- A food is enriched when nutrients have been added to the product that were originally present but may be at levels lower than desired or recommended. An example of an enriched food would be milk to which vitamin D has been added.
- Fortified foods contain nutrients that have been added back in significant amounts to the product that either were not originally present or have been lost or destroyed due to processing or other factors. Some brands of bread are fortified to replace nutrients lost during milling of the grain.
- Nutrients can be lost or destroyed due to processing or other factors. In a restored food, these lost nutrients have been added back to the levels originally present before processing.
- This is a marketing term used to describe a product that has had minor changes in its processing and / or formulation and /or packaging. The product may be more attractive to the consumer, but there may be no new additional nutrition or health benefits.
- Health Food
- A marketing term that has no clear meaning, health food is often used as a term to imply improved benefit or superiority to other similar products. Any claims made for such products often originate in folklore and lack sufficient (and in some cases, any) scientific evidence to be accepted by health regulatory officials.