In my work with The Nutrition Coach as healthy food consultants, we have been advising manufacturers and producers for over 10 years on how to meet the health objectives of customers whilst keeping an eye on what is practical in terms how to get a product to market.
Restaurants, staff restaurants and manufacturers of food have a duty of care to make sure what they are giving their consumers is not just convenient for the producer but also good for them. The Food industry is driven by impossible objectives sometimes – producing good food but producing it in such a way that it is safe for modern distribution methods (ie it doesn’t go off and poison their customer)
Most manufactures concentrate on macro nutrient analysis (that is carbohydrate, protein and fat) but do not concentrate on the micro nutrient analysis – ie the vitamin and mineral content of the food. Currently the macro nutrient analysis on food labelling is so obscure that most consumers glaze over and do not engage with it at all. In fact, if a consumer is going to choose a high fat/calorie product they will probably do so anyway without looking at the calorie content – it will not inform him to buy a healthier product.
The key comes with consumer education. That is where micro-nutrient analysis can be important – ie looking at how nutrient dense a food it rather than just the calorie content. An avocado of course is a high at food but it is also a nutrient dense one. Looking at food in context is important – for example some food which is higher fat will be more satisfying (eg a full fat yoghurt) – of course it is about how much fat you consume and what type but generally what we have done is increase the portion size, cutting out the fat and thus having to eat more to remain satisfied. Depending on the context of the diet, more fat could mean a more stable blood sugar and thus stop someone diving into the cookie jar later on in the afternoon. A more satisfying meal with the right fat, fibre and protein content is and important consideration – not just how many calories that adds up to.
The way food labelling is currently done is taking the food out of context without looking at the broader context of the diet. It’s like someone going to the doctor with health condition without looking at the route cause of the illness. We are looking at the value of the food in isolation with out considering the actual broader nutrient qualities – then we give our customers only half the story – we can feed them rubbish as long as it’s low calorie? I don’t think that would be ethical, do you?