Materia Medica Malaysiana

December 11, 2007

Check nutrition labels on fast food before tucking in

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:00 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Come the new year, you may want to read the print on your burger wrapper before taking a bite.
The compulsory labelling of fast-food products takes effect from Jan 1 and with its implementation, you will be able to know if you are consuming too much salt, fat or carbohydrates.
Launching the guidelines on labelling yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said fast-food operators were now obliged to state the calorie, carbohydrate, fat, protein, salt and sugar content of their products.
These figures must also be translated into the recommended nutrition intake (RNI) percentages so consumers can know the percentage of their daily intake requirement that will be met.
The Health Ministry hopes that the move will educate Malaysians and enable them to make better decisions about the amount and frequency of fast food that they eat.
Dr Chua said to date, only three — KFC, A&W and McDonalds’ — of the 20 fast-food companies were ready to label their products.
“The rest must do so by Jan 1, failing which I will announce their names in the newspapers and use administrative measures to penalise them,” he said, adding that the industry had been told six months ago about the compulsory labelling of their products.
The nutritional information must be displayed prominently, either on the food wrappers and cups, or on posters, pamphlets or on the table-tops.
However, the labelling requirement does not apply to seasonal promotions.
Dr Chua also launched guidelines on fast-food television commercials that can be shown during children’s programmes.
Fast-food companies are also banned from sponsoring children’s TV programmes.
Children’s programmes are defined as those aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 9.
The ban on sponsorship and commercials during children’s shows is already in place.
The guidelines also state that commercials during other programmes cannot give inaccurate or confusing information on nutrition, cannot encourage people to eat more fast food, cannot create the impression that fast food can replace a complete and balanced diet, and cannot refute the Malaysian dietary guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.
The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) is to monitor the compliance of fast-food companies to the guidelines, as the ministry wants the industry to be self-regulated.
4As president Datuk Vincent Lee, who was present at the launch, said the industry was looking at a commercial which might be in violation of the guidelines and was considering pulling it off the air.
The commercial shows a working mother who was shopping for fresh produce at a supermarket for dinner but changes her mind when she sees the long queue at the cashier and opts for fast food for the family instead.

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