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Accuracy of nutrition labels of pre-packaged foods in Malaysia

Sing Chuan Kok (Department of Science and Technology Studies,University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Che Wan Jasimah Mohamed Radzi (Department of Science and Technology Studies,University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 6 February 2017

840

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the prepackaged foods in Malaysia are able to provide credible nutrition labels for consumers and how many prepackaged foods do not comply with the tolerance limits, regardless of whether the products are sold in Malaysia or exported to overseas even though there are no standardization of tolerance limits.

Design/methodology/approach

The present study consists of 300 samples (triplicate samples for each product) of core nutrients (energy, fat, carbohydrate and protein), which have been stratified into eight categories, were analysed and the analytical values were compared with the declared values. Compliance of products were obtained through the comparison with different guidelines.

Findings

About 34 per cent of analysed products did not comply with the tolerance limit according to the Food Act 1983, Malaysia (one way approach tolerance limit). Then, 73 per cent of products failed to comply with the tolerance leeway ±20 per cent (two-way approach) and 56 per cent of products did not comply with the tolerance limits set in the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services.

Research limitations/implications

Many researches have proved that consumers used nutrition label as a tool to improve their healthy lifestyles. The misleading of nutrition label will elicit detrimental effect to consumers especially who always rely on the nutrition label before purchasing. Hence, credibility of nutrition label is imperative. However, this research only focussed on four major core nutrients. Nutrients such as trans-fat and sodium have proved that are detrimental to human’s health are not covered in the study.

Practical implications

First, this research could directly reflect the credibility of nutrition label in the market. The government of the country should improve the surveillance activity on nutrition label. Meantime, free trade activities especially on food industries are active now; an accurate nutrition label is the first key to success in the business. This research can inject awareness to food producers who incline to do global free trade business shall always assure the accuracy of the nutrition label no matter the tolerance or guidelines are different among the countries.

Originality/value

There are many research about improvement in consumers’ awareness towards nutrition label but very little research conducted on the accuracy of nutrition label. The main purpose of those research is to improve public health awareness but this may become insignificant if the values of nutrition label are inaccurate. Then, the asymmetric of tolerance limits would trigger awareness from policy makers or food manufacturers to be more responsible in providing credible nutrition label. At the end, consumers are protected from inaccurate nutrition labels and a healthy nation can be sustained.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was fully sponsored by research grant under the University of Malaya Postgraduate Research Grant (PPP), Project No. PG134-2015A and partially sponsored by the University Malaya Research Grant (UMRG) under the Humanities Research Cluster, Project No. RP027E-15HNE.

Citation

Kok, S.C. and Mohamed Radzi, C.W.J. (2017), "Accuracy of nutrition labels of pre-packaged foods in Malaysia", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 2, pp. 230-241. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2016-0306

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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