It is known by the name
of Nutrimental Information, and is the data contained on the label which
appears on the container of many industrialized food products and indicates
the amount of energy and nutriments contained in the product.
The use of this label
is nothing new. It has appeared on almost all products since 1988.
The present popularity
in the use of nutrimental information in many countries reflects what is
happening in the international realm and is in itself a very interesting
The idea of its use,
diffused by the authorities, is basically for the educational purposes to
provide the consumer with elements for improved nutrition.
is a great help although it is not the miracle treatment for obesity.
However this idea does
not work as it was originally expected for several reasons:
The energetic content
should be expressed in K joules (or Kcal) and the rest of the components in
metric units, by 100 g or per portion or per container if this contains just
one portion. Vitamins and minerals may be expressed as percentage of the
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and the standard daily allowance to be used
is the FDA's recommendation.
If it is decided to
include the complementary nutrimental information, the criteria are:
All or any of the
following components may be declared: proteins, vitamins A,B1,B2,B6,B12, C,E,
folic acid, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and iodine,
which may be expressed as % of the RDA, if an rda exists and if the content by
portion is higher than 5% of said amount.
The lipids (fats) may
be specified as polyunsaturated fat (g), monounsaturated (g), saturated (g)
and cholesterol (mg) per portion but all must be declared.
All or any of the
following components may be declared: sugar (g), stach (g) and dietetic fiber
It is unbelievable that
the official norms' objective is to provide consumer with information and
education, instead of making it easier for the consumer it is only
complicating the understanding of the information.
The first concept is
the energetic content and in no way the calories or kilocalories. The calorie
and, consequently, the kilocalorie is one of the units with which energy is
measured but it is used less each time due to the international system of
measures. The energy unit is Joule (J) or its derivatives kilo Joule (KJ) and
mega Joule (MJ).
The official norms
establish that the energetic content should be measured in kJ, and, in
parenthesis kcal; 1 kcal equals 4.18kJ.
At the time of the
definite redaction of the norm, some representatives of the industrial sector
objected to the technical terms arguing that the consumers would not
understand same and requested that kcal, carbohydrates and fat be employed.
Even though the argument was lacking of objective basis, a major disagreement
was created and in order to resolve it was decided to include both proposals
putting in parenthesis those of the scientific sector.
There is no explanation
for the lack of fulfillment. All industries are committed to knowing and
fulfilling the norms applied to their activity; in this area indifference
constitutes a mistake.
It could be that the
designers of the nutritional information label are not always adequately
trained or that even if they are, they get confused.
The dispositions of
these norms among other countries with respect to the nutrimental information
differ and therefore complicate the existence of those who import and export
Since each country has
different problems and conditions, their laws and regulations are usually
different and the food industry is no exception.
It is a complex matter
of subject but something must be done about it.
Name of product:
By portion: 240 ml.
Proteins 7.68 g
Fats (lipids) 10.32 g
Carbohydrates 9.84 g
RDA Nutriment Percentage
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 18.3 %
Niacin (nicotinic acid) 12.0 %
Calcium 34.8 %
Phosphorus 23.0 %
Iron 51.2 %
Magnesium 5.8 %