Independent Online

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Should fast-food nutritional labelling in South Africa be mandatory?

Should fast-food nutritional labelling in South Africa be mandatory? Picture: Pexels/Engin Akyurt

Should fast-food nutritional labelling in South Africa be mandatory? Picture: Pexels/Engin Akyurt

Published Mar 11, 2022

Share

A study by the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition into fast food nutrition labelling found that just 58% of SA’s biggest fast-food retailers surveyed provide nutritional information on their products.

The study furthermore found that the nutritional content of your burger, chips and soft drink combo meals are not nutritionally equal. The study, titled ‘Should fast-food nutritional labelling in South Africa be mandatory?’ was published in the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition on 2 December 2021.

Story continues below Advertisement

According to the website, this study aimed to determine the proportion of fast-food restaurants that provide nutritional information, describe the nutritional information of similar food items and meal combinations across the fast-food restaurants, and use a graphical labelling system to describe these data.

Two things were investigated. One was, do South African fast-food restaurants provide nutritional information to the public? And secondly, they looked at the nutritional content of fast foods offered in SA.

They looked at the websites of thirty-one fast-food restaurants in the country, and they contacted the outlets when no information was found on their websites. In the study, findings showed that about 58% of the biggest South African fast-food restaurants provide nutritional information. They said this was mostly made accessible through the restaurants’ websites, but a few restaurants made it available only on request.

Should fast-food nutritional labelling in South Africa be mandatory? Picture: Pexels

Lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Developmental Pathways to Health Research Unit (DPHRU), Dr Siphiwe N Dlamini, notes that while all burgers were high in protein, some were also high in fat, salt, and sugar, as indicated by percentages of the nutritional reference ranges above 30%.

Dlamini notes that similarly, this was the case for pizzas. He said all meal combinations particularly exceeded the total recommended energy, carbohydrates, sugar, and salt content, and most also exceeded the recommended fat content, and these levels were set by the National Department of Health for individuals four years and older.

In conclusion, they concluded that the South African government should introduce regulations that mandate nutritional labelling of fast foods as this will help consumers make informed dietary choices. They said it is important that nutritional labelling is easily understood by all South Africans as fast-food consumers in SA may be underestimating their daily nutrient intakes and making misinformed dietary choices.

Story continues below Advertisement

They recommend that consumers limit their fast-food intake and avoid eating meal combinations and that the government makes it mandatory for fast-food outlets to provide nutritional information so that consumers are better informed.

Related Topics:

SAMRCNutrition

Share