clock December 24,2023
Revitalising Sri Lanka: Transformative changes in food labelling for health and wellness

Revitalising Sri Lanka: Transformative changes in food labelling for health and wellness

To propel Sri Lanka towards a healthier future, ensure sustainable food practices and foster mindful eating habits for the wellbeing of generations to come, a transformative shift in our approach to food labelling is imperative. An impactful and cost-effective solution is the immediate implementation of mandatory ‘calorific value’ display on all edible items, spanning processed, locally grown and imported foods and beverages.

This initiative’s benefits extend beyond individual health to encompass broader societal advantages. By providing citizens with comprehensive information about the nutritional content of their food, we empower them to make informed decisions, addressing prevalent health concerns like diabetes and obesity. Aligned with our commitment to food conservation, understanding the caloric content promotes mindful consumption, contributing not only to personal wellbeing but also to the preservation of valuable resources.Furthermore, the financial prudence of implementing this labelling requirement is evident. By reducing health issues associated with poor dietary choices, we simultaneously curtail government spending on healthcare, redirecting funds towards preventive measures. It is imperative to bolster the production of food scientists through universities, fostering collaboration with esteemed institutions such as the Sri Lanka Standards Institution and Industrial Technology Institute. Strategic investment in provincial testing labs, supported by these institutions, will enforce the mandatory inclusion of calorific values on food labels.

The introduction of calorific values on food labels represents a low-cost, high-impact solution that cultivates a culture of informed consumption for a healthier and more resilient Sri Lanka. The minimal investment in testing labs is justified by substantial savings in healthcare costs and the overall wellbeing of our citizens.
The insights for this article were derived from LabelBlind founder Rashida Vapiwala, who holds a PhD and specialises in digitising food labelling with artificial intelligence (AI). Delving into the realm of food labelling, information extraction plays a pivotal role in deriving nutritional content or manufacturing processes from labels. This empowers consumers to make informed decisions based on their preferences, contributing to healthier lifestyles and aiding in the prevention of health issues.

The application of image recognition is valuable in identifying a brand’s logo on food labels, particularly in detecting counterfeit products. Machine learning algorithms analyse product packaging, identifying irregularities that may indicate counterfeits. This capability safeguards consumer safety and brand reputation by enabling manufacturers and regulatory authorities to detect and remove counterfeit products from the market.The trajectory of AI technologies, including sentiment analysis, information extraction and image recognition, significantly impacts the food labelling industry. Manufacturers leverage these tools to ensure accurate and compliant labelling, empowering consumers to make discerning purchase decisions. Machine translation services and image recognition further enhance market reach and assure the authenticity of products.

The future of food labelling is intricately linked to the integration of advanced AI technologies. As AI progresses, we anticipate witnessing more sophisticated applications, leading to safer, transparent and consumer-friendly food labelling practices. Embracing these technologies benefits manufacturers, consumers and ensures the overall sustainability of the food industry.In conclusion, while the practice of food labelling with nutritional information is not a novel concept, it becomes imperative for Sri Lanka to address its alarming prevalence of diabetes. The nation stands among the highest in the spread of this health concern, making it crucial to implement mandatory food labelling that includes information on calorific values. This step is not just a regulatory measure; rather, it is a fundamental shift in viewing food as a form of medicine rather than a potential vice.

Recognising the profound impact of dietary choices on public health, mandatory disclosure of calorific values on food labels can serve as a powerful tool in fostering awareness and encouraging healthier lifestyles. By equipping consumers with information about the nutritional content of their food, we empower them to make informed decisions, contributing to the prevention of diabetes and other health issues.In essence, this shift in perspective emphasises the role of food not only as a source of sustenance but as a means to promote wellbeing. As Sri Lanka embarks on this journey towards mandatory calorific value labelling, it signifies a commitment to a healthier and more informed society, where food is seen as a crucial element in the pursuit of optimal health, rather than a potential risk factor for diseases like diabetes.

( Source : Daily Mirror)

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