Everyone knows about the labels on food and why it is the most important information that consumers can get about what they are eating. Consumers are not the only ones reading product labels, so are the chefs preparing the food in restaurants. Everyone is looking out for each other when it comes to food.
Why is it important for chefs to read the labels?
Food labeling has come under a lot of scrutiny. It was even brought up in a court case against McDonalds. A statement in the case read, “Thus Congress provided that essentially all packaged foods sold at retail shall be appropriately labeled and their contents described.” A chef needs to know what is in their food because although it may not seem like, restaurants are food retailers and nutritional information is important. Chef Margaret Thompson said, “I always ask about food allergies before I make my menus for private parties. I want my customers to be happy with their food and know every piece of nutritional information that I can give them. It is important for their safety and my reputation that proper food labeling is taken.”
There is a company called Monsanto that is producing Genetically Modified food crops and has therefore been put under condemnation because they do not want to label their products as such. They were recently issued a court-ordered mandate to remove a genetically engineered sugar beet crop. Not only is Monsanto being put under examination for their GM foods, but so is all food labeling. The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report addressing the problem with food labels. “Problems with food labels can be broken down into three basic categories: the Nutrition Facts Panel needs to be improved, ingredient labels need to be modernized, and Health-related claims need more stringent regulation.” Chef Margaret said, “I know the labels on the food are not the best. I research as much as I can to make an informed decision on the products I buy for customers. I also petition the FDA and other government organizations to reform product labels to give all consumers the best possible information.”
So what do chefs serve, if labels are not correct?
“My restaurant (Lime Covington) serves only local organic products,” said Gina Puopolo, Executive Chef/Owner of the Covington, Kentucky restaurant. “I don’t buy pre-packaged ingredients; I make them from scratch, so I know everything that goes into my food.” There are plenty of nutritional facts that chefs have to look at especially when it comes to food allergies. One of the biggest allergies that chefs are dealing with now is wheat allergies, which has brought about the whole gluten-free movement. Chef Gina said, “I used to serve corn tortillas, but I changed to flour and our burritos can be made with lettuce for people with gluten allergies.”
Learning how to reading and understand food labels is important because after all, knowledge is power. Everyone must do their part to change by being educated consumers and take the time to contact the proper agencies to bring about food label reform. Chefs are only a small part of a bigger consumer picture.