Thursday, 8 September 2011

Peel Here

I'm standing in the deli section of a well-known supermarket store. “Something for lunch, something for lunch...” I murmur. Once again I wanted something for Friday's lunch. Something that was possibly reduced and appealing. What can I eat in half an hour? I scan the shelves, my eyes falling on a reduced cous cous salad. That'll do. I'll just check the ingredients. I check all sides of the transparent container searching for the list. “It must be underneath”, I mutter. Holding it up, I spot a label. Peel Here it says.

Have you ever tried peeling here when you're holding the item above you? It's infuriatingly impossible. What is this? A dexterous challenge to buying food? It makes you look very unhinged, furiously clawing at the packaging. Usually I give up and fling the product back, to continue the hunt elsewhere. Suitable for veggies it said, so this time I chose to believe it. Short of cash, the reduced sticker was too big a plus to miss out on. In this case, my instinct paid off, but even out of the shop peeling the label was a good ten minute job.

So how did I do it you're wondering... The container now positioned upside down, I tried to prise open the label. Even with my slender fingers and thumb it wouldn't budge, so I carefully peeled the whole label off the packaging. It was only once I stuck it to a sheet of plain paper, I could achieve the needed manoeuvre. With a pincher-like grip I successfully peeled and read the ingredients. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was fine. Friday's lunch officially sorted.

Yes, I confess I'm one of those shoppers. I want to know the contents and nutritional info. Being veggie has very little to do with it. This is an act of personal responsibility for my health. I won't put blind faith in the manufacturers. Take their description at face value. Do they purposely make it difficult to assess this in-store? Believing our senses will be so tantalized with appearance we'll just throw it in the basket. Is that what the majority do?

Packaging size and the amount of info required by law is often the excuse. This to me is not good enough. Peel here labels suggests a very long list of ingredients, with too much sugar, salt and fat. This isn't always the case, but if the manufacturers want to lose out so be it. If it's nutritionally dubious, improve it. Why sell something that's as nutritious as sawdust or packs in way too many calories, additives and E numbers?

The public is bored and annoyed with this branded secrecy. Manufacturers, be upfront with consumers. All we want is clear product labels, which can be easily read without any faffing about.