Skip to main content

Food labelling and marketing


Lately, there have been many interesting products in the market; masala githeri, Chia seeds, then there is roasted udongo. See need creates supply; a business opportunity, but I am more interested in the consumer’s awareness of the product and safety thereof.

The lady that brought Chia seeds to my attention had information that a spoonful is almost equivalent to a meal-you need not eat anything else-. Of course I thought wow magic seeds. So, after studying them I found seeds that can be incorporated in diet yes; low in calories, high in antioxidants, but the omega3 which is their major selling point is not as available as that found in fish. They were also not proven to have effect on weight loss or on the risk of getting lifestyle conditions. This brings me to products labeling and marketing.

Consumers need one, to be protected. I am still not sure I understand how soil made it to the supermarket. Could there actually be nutritious soil? Second, consumers need to have factual information about the product. Factual because false information can be lethal, and also affects the consumer’s ability to make decisions. Then as the consumer, you need to read it and ask questions where in doubt. This therefore means distributors need to understand the products they are selling.

Codex Alimentarius-the world’s food standard body- has set the standards for consumer protection and fair practices in international food trade. According to their general standards for prepackaged foods, it is mandatory that products have; a specific name, a list of ingredients and those known to cause hypersensitivity declared as such, food additives, net content, manufacturers name and address, country of origin and of course date marking and storage instructions (best before, expiry and such)as well as instructions of use.

Now, with the growing trend of obesity, overweight and lifestyle conditions, I think food joints too need to have a list of ingredients and calorie counts on their menu list; a king size burger with cheese= 1200Kcal, 2gm salt, you know. That way, if you are a lady in your 20s with little exercise in your day, you know you have met almost half of your energy needs for the day or this has too much salt which is not good for my pressure.

Don’t you agree?

Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.