Analysing the actual content of sodium in sweet ready-made meals compared to what is stated on its label and how this could cause an affect on health.
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Introduction Food-labelling is a successful intervention to help the public with no dietary knowledge to understand what products are healthy and what products should be avoided. Sodium is one component that needs to be made aware of in the diet as a high-sodium-diet can lead to health complications such as hypertension. The front-of-packet method works by using a traffic-light system which uses colour code to demonstrate low/medium/high amounts within the product; when the product consists of high amounts the label is demonstrated as red therefore suggests that the customer should avoid this product and chose a healthier alternative. However controversies have been raised as it has been questioned whether the amounts that are provided on the packet are accurate to the amount measured. This studies focus is to establish how accurate these measurements are to what has been printed on the packet. Methods Three methods were used throughout this study; Mohr Method, Atomic Absorption Spectrometry and Flame Photometry. Each method required a process of Dry Ashing in order to analyse. Before the study was conducted Ethical Approval was required and successful allowing the experiment to continue. Results Packet data underestimated compared to the method data within the healthy, cheap and middle-range products (H 0.099g, C 0.12g M 0.085g) whereas the expensive products demonstrated similar amounts. There was no significant correlations shown between packet data and the methods as p-values measured above 0.05 however there were positive correlations between each method suggesting its accuracy. Regression analysis was performed which demonstrated how much underestimation had occurred (Mohr Method ~29%, Atomic Absorption ~58%, Flame Photometry ~58%). Suggesting that the Mohr Method was less reliable compared to the others as the results differ. Discussion Overall it was determined that packet data measuring sodium content underestimated by around ~50% which consequences in serious health problems such as hypertension which lead to other complications such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. It was discovered that the healthier alternatives contained the most amount of sodium compared to other price-range brands querying why the products are named as healthy. Customers rely hugely on the nutritional information provided on the packet therefore food labelling is an important factor toward providing them with a health diet and better lifestyle.
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