In a rapidly growing health-conscious society, consumers want to know more about how their food is grown, raised and processed. They want to know beyond the label and marketing that their food is safe and nutritious. Manufactures are both suppliers and consumers during the value-add process and need to know there is quality and reliability at every point along the supply line.
Timing is key in most processes, and that is especially true in the Ag industry, from planting through harvest, milking, feeding, and inoculations; right up to flash freezing and transportation to the marketplace and finally the dinner table.
The South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council launched the Hungry for Truth initiative in 2015 to help consumers understand how their food is produced and that health and safety is key.
With South Dakota a major player in worldwide food production, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), pesticide use, biotechnology, hormone injection, antibiotics and sustainability are all common concerns of the consumer.
In biotechnology as applied to crops, if one plant is able to withstand a drought-stricken environment better than another, the genetic makeup in the resistant plant can be harvested and utilized in the production of other plants to ensure they express the same favorable characteristics.
Food labels are designed to attract shoppers, while the purpose of the nutrition panel is to fully disclose what the product contains. Labeling is now under scrutiny by the FDA, and they are struggling with what the word ‘healthy’ means and are soliciting input so we can be better served with consistent and quantifiable definitions.
Terms like “healthy,” “low in fat,” “good source,” or “natural” may appear on food packaging as a way for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors, but those terms are not clearly defined or regulated by the FDA.
Research is constantly changing our understanding of things like fats and sugars and we now know that fat free isn’t necessarily the way to go, and that there are healthy fats we should incorporate in our daily diet. We also know that many products that seem healthy contain a great deal of sugar. That’s why the FDA began soliciting feedback in September on how to define the term “healthy”. The agency is asking for public input on a range of questions about what “healthy” should mean from a nutrition perspective and how we need to understand and use “healthy” on food label claims. If you are interested in being part of that panel discussion, visit hungryfortruthsd.com
FDA officials say while they are working on the “healthy” claim, other label claims are also being reviewed to see how they might be updated. The goal is to give people the best tools and information available in an effort to improve public health.
Experts feel that having uniform definitions for common food labels will help Americans make better and healthier food-buying decisions.
By Alan Dooley