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Useful SA food labelling guide

Unilever Food Solutions’ new, easy-to-use Food Labelling Ingredients and Legislation Guide provides the answers to many questions that frequently come up in the food and food service industries about nutritional values, labelling and legislation issues.

The new guide, which will be released globally following its successful launch in South Africa last year, demystifies food labels – from nutritional content and additives to allergen information and food safety – while also helping manufacturers and chefs to easily adapt their menus to specific nutritional needs and dietary requests.

Available for download at no cost from the Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) website (www.ufs.com), the guide is accessible to all.

“At last nutrition labelling, food safety and special dietary requests are made simple and practical in this new easy-to-use tool,” says UFS nutrition expert Keegan Eichstadt.

UFS South Africa has distributed over 150 copies of the hard-cover guide to chefs, operators and schools around the country for their use – and it is being hailed as a valuable book that is providing a wealth of the right type of information.

Says SA Chefs’ Association (SACA) president Stephen Billingham: “A practical and very relevant publication, The Unilever Food Solutions’ Labelling, ingredients and legislation guide is an invaluable tool for chefs and hospitality professionals wishing to successfully comply with the Consumer Protection Act and food labelling regulations.

“It is imperative that menu descriptions are not misleading in any way and every chef and foodservice professional needs to be aware of, and able to clearly communicate, not only the ingredients that make up the dish, but also the possible allergies and food tolerances related to the dish. As South Africa’s food industry continues to develop, a publication of this nature becomes increasingly important; guiding our chefs successfully through these changing times.”

UFS MD Michel Mellis is delighted that the immense amount of work that went into developing the guide is paying off so handsomely in the food service industry in South Africa. “The positive response to the book is encouraging because it indicates a continued growth and maturing in the industry and a commitment to complying with relevant legislation and meeting consumers’ expectations and needs.”

He adds that chefs are facing increasing demands from guests to be transparent about their ingredients. Global research conducted with 3,500 diners in the UFS 2011 ‘World Menu Report: What’s in Your Food?’ survey showed that 90% wanted more transparency in their food when they eat out.

“This book is helping chefs and operators ensure that they are fully catering to diners’ needs and offering transparency to their patrons. Lack of knowledge about ingredients should never be a barrier to choosing one restaurant or menu item over another.”

In food manufacturing too, the book has proved a more than useful tool. Helen Digby of Sally Williams Fine Foods finds the book very enjoyable to read, engaging and interesting.

“It takes the most important points from the relevant regulations and simplified them and makes them very easy to understand. It also provides good and practical advice and guidelines on food safety, ingredients and labelling.

“It is a valuable book with great information which I will love to have on hand when reviewing labelling and so on. It is a much friendlier and easier option than the bulky regulations.”

She mentions that the food additives appendix at the back of the book “is fantastic, providing a quick and easy appendix. I will be keeping that on hand for future reference…  This should be a mandatory read for anyone starting a job in the food industry.”

Chris Wheatley, food technologist with BEE Foods, says the book is well-written and beautifully illustrated. “Such knowledge and information can only be of benefit to chefs as well as many people in the food manufacturing industry, including retail outlets.”

Mellis concludes, “The guide is not just a way of complying with the various acts governing food safety. It gives chefs the ability to market their operation as one that has the capabilities and knowledge to provide food for any nutritional requirement, which, at this early stage of legislation, is a unique selling proposition for any restaurant.

“In the future, however, restaurants that do not have the know-how to provide educated guests with information about what’s in their food will be severely handicapped, and chefs would be well advised to use this opportunity to establish their credibility and reliability in food safety and nutrition to full advantage.”

The guide is available in digital format for free download at www.ufs.com, registration required.

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