International food policy consultancy EAS said that health logos on food and drink products which meet certain nutritional criteria are growing in the Asian region.
Levie Cequena, food and health policy manager for EAS Asia highlighted the growing popularity of health logos on products, noting that Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have all recently prioritised programmes to counter obesity.
“The programmes being discussed, implemented and advanced in the region are comprehensive, and food and beverage companies should be monitoring activities in this area,” she said.
“Significant numbers in Asian countries are now considered morbidly obese, therefore most of the programmes governments in the region are looking into are awareness and information campaigns on healthy lifestyles,” said Cequena.
“The aim is to help make health and nutrition decisions easier for consumers.”
Cequena highlighted initiatives in Singapore, where products can carry a ‘Healthier Choice Symbol’ if they meet nutritional guidelines established by the country’s Health Promotion Board.
“Singapore leads the initiatives on healthy choice symbols, and has also created a variant of the Healthier Choice Symbol called the Healthier Snack Symbol,” she added.
“Malaysia too is following suit, with its recently announced plans to re-introduce a Healthier Choice symbol programme similar to that of Singapore.”
Cequena also noted that specific products in Brunei have been able to carry a Healthier Choice logo since 2004, whilst the Philippines is set to implement a ‘Healthier for you’ seal within the next year.
Labels and logos
Cequena said that initiatives such as the use of health logos are part of ongoing efforts to simplify food labelling and make health and nutrition decisions easier for consumers.
“Specific to the food and beverage industry, this approach enables products meeting specific nutritional criteria to bear a symbolic health logo on the product packaging,” she said.
Products carrying such logos tend to be lower in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar, whilst some may offer health benefits including higher levels of dietary fibre or calcium.
The idea of simplifying labels is also currently being tackled in the EU, with European Parliament recently announcing plans to modernise, simplify and clarify food labelling.
Although details of the preliminary EU agreement have not been revealed, FoodNavigator was recently told that the new regulations would not over-burden businesses, whilst providing consumers with legible and understandable information.