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Many people who do not have food allergies believe that they are non-existent. This may be caused by our culture where children were told to consume everything offered and if one would refuse that would show indiscipline. Or maybe people who lived “those days” were allergy resistant as they all claim that they were and are quite stronger than all born frees. Levels of people suffering from food allergies are increasing and without proper education confusion will occur if these allergies erupt in a family where food allergies have never been witnessed. If someone claims that he/she is suffering from a food allergy, the best is to quickly understand that person’s situation; many people will take it lightly and end up tormenting allergic people by feeding them their allergen. It is therefore necessary for allergic people to understand this “special need” they possess, before purchasing any foodstuff one must read the label. Due to innovation some foodstuffs may end up possessing “strange” ingredients that are rare traditionally in certain food products.
Food allergies are a common foe for both consumers and the food industry. A food allergy is a reaction to a substance ingested in food. Food allergies affect 8% of children under age three, 6%-8% of school-age children and 2.5% of adults. Estimates point that food allergy prevalence has increased 55% in the last five years. 40%-50% of those persons with a diagnosed food allergy are judged to have a high risk of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Every food allergy reaction has the possibility of developing into a life-threatening and potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. This can occur within minutes of exposure to the allergen. An individual may be allergic to more than one food (Sampson 2000).
Food allergy commonly occurs in atopic children with a history of eczema, the
major allergens being eggs, milk, wheat, fish and peanuts. Immediate
reactions may cause swelling, itch or burning around the mouth and throat, as well as vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Sensitivity can
sometimes be exquisite, such that even the smell of a peanut or fish may produce facial urticaria, angioedema or asthma, and rarely systemic anaphylaxis may occur. In children presenting with chronic eczema the
problem is often more insidious , and the relationship between diet and the
rash may only be recognized after the relevant foods have been withdrawn and subsequently reintroduced. Most children tend to improve spontaneously as they grow older or else learn to avoid the particular food involved8, so that it is rare to see an adult presenting for the first time with symptomatic food allergy.
While more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies, the law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods. These foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions, and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived.
The eight foods identified by the law are:
3. Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
5. Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
These eight foods, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as major food allergens.
The law requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food. This requirement is met if the common or usual name of an ingredient (e.g., buttermilk) that is a major food allergen already identifies that allergen’s food source name (i.e., milk). Otherwise, the allergen’s food source name must be declared at least once on the food label in one of two ways. In most instances the name is written
1. In parentheses following the name of the ingredient.
Examples: “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”
2. Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a
Example: “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”
Sampson, HA, “Food Allergy”, from Biology Toward Therapy, Hospital
Practice, 2000: May.
Given that most food is commercially produced, regulations and standards should protect consumers against deception and misrepresentation in the packaging, labelling, advertising and sale of food. Individuals should be protected against harm caused by unsafe or adulterated food, including food offered by street vendors. Food packaging and labelling should provide consumers with accurate information that is sufficient to enable them to make well-informed food choices. States also need to provide consumers with information and education on safe storage, handling and utilization of food, as well as ways to prevent food-borne diseases. Certified food products in Zimbabwe mainly have the SAZ tag. Some companies also have internationally recognized standards like the new FSSC 22000 standard. These standards are the best since the companies undergo rigorous auditing. It is therefore our task as consumers to buy safe food for ourselves since the state has already placed structures for us.
Know what you are eating
How can you find out what’s in your food? Just look at the information on the package! Zimbabwean laws on food labelling enable you to know what you are eating. Full details of the ingredients used to make a food product must be given on the label, along with details of any colouring, preservatives, sweeteners and other chemical additives used. If an ingredient is one to which some consumers may be allergic – for example, nuts – it must be marked on the label even if the quantities used are very small. Some companies have a tendency of using toxic ingredients , this even done by some of the popular companies in Zimbabwe, since we do not have the muscle to challenge such things it is your duty as consumers to read the ingredients and take charge.
When you buy a product, its quality and quantity must comply with certain guidelines set out in law.
Amongst other things, the product must:
(a) Be of a reasonable quality;
(b) Be appropriate for the purpose for which it was intended when it was purchased;
(c) Match any sample or description of the product which was given to you prior to the purchase (e.g. a label on a food product).
If the person selling you the product provides you with a product which does not comply with these requirements, you may be entitled to a refund. You should always keep your receipt, as you will probably need to produce it to obtain a refund.
Before we start pointing fingers at the manufactures the following are customer responsibilities
You, as consumer, have a responsibility to
• keep yourselves informed as best as possible;
• Exercise due care when making decisions in the market place;
• consider the detrimental consequences that may arise from ill-considered decisions; and
• honor reasonable obligations arising from your decisions
The increase of small manufacturing companies and imports from some of our neighboring countries has also resulted in saturation of the food market with poor quality food. This is due to poor regulatory measures with regards to food processing. It is now time for Zimbabweans to know what is safe and healthy to consume and what is unfit for consumption.
Unlike 2008 where food was scarcely available and expensive, nowadays food is cheap and available almost in every tuck shop. I encourage all Zimbabweans to start buying quality food from approved companies. It is also important to buy our locally manufactured goods for the growth of the nation. As of now SAZ is the local auditing authority, foods with SAZ logo are approved goods
from an approved supplier. Items with an ISO logo are also internationally approved foods.
Zimbabwean economic growth in the first three years following the return of macroeconomic stability that came with dollarization in 2009 was relatively robust at an estimated 5.8%, 8.1% and 9.3% year-on year(y-o-y) respectively in 2009, 2010 and 2011. However, the prospects for growth to remain at these levels in 2012 and the years thereafter look somewhat dimmer. While we acknowledge that Zimbabwe, with its abundant natural resources, educated workforce and relatively developed physical infrastructure, possesses considerable potential, it will require the inflow of foreign capital to finance the harnessing of this potential.
Key Industry Trends
Delta Shining Post Dollarization: Zimbabwe’s Delta Corporation, which dominates the Zimbabwean beer and soft drinks landscape, has invested considerable sums in the country (believed to be in the vicinity of US$200mn) since 2009 with SABMiller, which owns about 36% of its equity, among its main backers. Given its size, its allegiance and how well it has done post 2009, Delta has been able to access credit internationally at affordable rates. Significantly, both beer and soft drinks have been performing very well with both units registering annual volume growth in excess of 20% in the year to March 2012.
The company reported a 37.4% rise in net sales to US$479.9mn, with operating profits jumping by 44%to US$98.3mn. In October 2012, Delta Corporation has become the first company in the country to achieve a market capitalization of US$1bn.
Retail Attracting Interest in Zimbabwe: We estimate formal food retail stores account for about 25% of sales in Zimbabwe. To provide some context, this compares with about 5% in Kenya, which is considered to be among the region’s most developed organized retail markets after South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Mass grocery retailers such as South Africa’s Pick n Pay are believed to be keen to increase their exposure to Zimbabwe. Given that Pick n Pay increased its stake in domestic retailer Meikles-owned TM to 49% during 2012, the retailer is now better positioned to expand in the country. In summer 2012Pick n Pay opened its first store in Harare, Zimbabwe, after acquiring the stake in TM. The outlet includes a supermarket, a liquor store and a clothing store as part of the refurbished Kamfinsa shopping centre, and will devote at least 40% of its floor space to fresh produce and deli goods. Pick n Pay has said that the re-branding exercise of TM stores will take at least three years to complete.
This is the first blog so it will be quite short, all readers are welcome here, this blog is going to help all consumers with simple food notes so that consumers will understand why, what and how you are going to purchase food in the Zimbabwean market. The author is a part 4 university student studying food processing technology.I will try my best to give you adequate information on every topic I am going to write. Comments and questions are also allowed as I may write articles to answer some of your food questions. ENJOY