12 reasons why you should read the product information, label, or manual of any packaged product you want to buy.
Many people (Africans especially) don’t have the habit of checking out the information that manufacturer’s put in their labels before buying products which are packaged in tins, cans, tubes, bottles, sachets, boxes and so on. Whether you’re buying edibles like tin tomatoes, baked beans, ham, cheese, margarine, honey, soft drink, wine, sweets, bubble gum, spices/condiments, biscuits, chocolates, or other items like tooth paste, body sprays, insecticides, air fresheners, roll on/ deodorant and antiperspirants, even electrical appliances, electronic gadgets like phones, laptops and so on, it is very important to read the labels or product information. Here are some reasons why:
The Expiry date: The date of expiry gives you an estimate of how long the manufacturer can guarantee the 100% effectiveness or efficacy of the item. Beyond that, he is not held liable for whatever happens to the product or what it does to you. Most people know this and therefore are always on the lookout for it.
The ingredients: This is very important especially for both edible products and other items that will come in direct contact with your body. It is a safe practice to always check what you want to buy especially if you are allergic to certain ingredients like peanut, soy, milk, eggs etc or if you are on medication and your Pharmacist asked you to avoid certain food or substances like cheese, alcohol, milk, multivitamins etc (to avoid interaction with your drugs). When you want to buy air fresheners, ingredients are also important too because what you inhale affects your system too.
Also, some ingredients are good for some countries (because of their climate) but not for others. NAFDAC banned foreign toothpaste some years ago because they contained antifreeze which caused renal failure in Nigerians. Hence, not every ‘foreign’ thing is good for you. An African could use a cream or lotion without sun screen and run around Bar Beach without fear but if an American or an albino tries this, it would not be funny because they would have sunburn!
Directions for use: Most products tell you the proper way to use them. This is crucial because manufacturers sometimes like to change the way a product is usually used. It’s part of innovation to help them compete favourably with existing brands of the same product. Don’t always assume you know what you’re doing. Thirty seconds of reading could save you a whole lot of trial-and-error stress.
Possible Allergen information/Allergen information: A few products like chocolate, biscuits and spices also include this in their label. Some of them highlight and emphasize the ingredients in their product that are possible allergens like: SOY, PEANUT, EGGS. Others put it this way: ‘This product was manufactured where soy products are also being manufactured’ or: ‘This product may have traces of soy, gluten and peanut.’ Most times, these may not be part of the major ingredients but because it was (probably) milled in the same machine or packaged in the same room as products containing those ingredients, they warn people.
Allergic reactions can be fatal because a single spot of an allergen is enough to send the person’s immune system reacting. This usually results in a cascade of events (flares, wheezing, swelling, low blood pressure etc) that could eventually lead to death if it is not stopped or handled by a trained person.
Caution/Hazards: This is perhaps the most important piece of information that most people neglect. Nearly every product has a hazard or caution that the user should be aware of. For instance: Some toys read, ‘CHOKING HAZARD: NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3 YEARS OF AGE AS PARTS ARE TINY AND COULD BE SWALLOWED.’ For insecticides, body sprays and fresheners, the caution usually is: ‘HIGHLY FLAMMABLE. DO NOT SPRAY NEAR AN OPEN FLAME. KEEP AWAY FROM HEAT SOURCES. AVOID SMOKING.’ These cautions are very important to ensure the safety of the consumer while he/she is using the product. A lot of accidents could be avoided if people would make it a duty to read this important piece of information on every product they purchase.
Storage Requirements: This is very important because it ensure that the product stays in the right condition for as long as its shelf life (till it expires). Different products are stored at different temperatures (example, you can’t leave your ice cream on the table in the afternoon and expect it to still be blocked at night) and humidity conditions too (biscuits get soft when exposed to air for a while). You definitely need to read and adhere to that instruction so that you will derive maximum satisfaction from your product.
Nutritional Information: Food, beverages, snacks, drinks and other products you can eat always come with nutritional information. It gives you an idea of the proportion of vitamins, minerals, energy, fats etc you’re consuming. It is very important so that you can decipher if the drink you’re about to drink now (for instance) will give you as much energy as you require at the moment. It also helps you differentiate between a wholesome meal and a snack/junk food.
Quantity and Calories per 100g or 100ml: Moderation is the key to keeping in shape and not being overweight. It is always important to watch out for the total quantity of a giving product and how many calories you get per serving (approx. 15g but depends mostly on the product) or per 100g.
Customer care help line: Many people are unaware of this but most good product including consumables have a phone number on the packaging which you can dial if you’re experiencing any difficulties during your usage of the product. It mustn’t be a complaint, you could make enquiries too. Some company’s help line is toll free.
Manufacturer and Manufacturer’s address: if you’re using a packaged product that doesn’t have any of these, you are advised to stop immediately except you made it yourself or you know the manufacturer personally. This is because that manufacturer cannot be traced or held liable for whatever happens to you during the course of our using the product.
NAFDAC/SON registration: The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control as well as Standards Organisation of Nigeria are regulatory bodies that establish standards of food, drugs and other products. While NAFDAC deals more with consumables or items that affect the human health directly, SON deals with other products especially electronics, building materials and so on. It is strongly advised to avoid products that have not been registered by NAFDAC/SON or your country’s food, drug and other products regulatory bodies because most of these unregistered items are imported illegally and have not been approved for use in Nigeria/your country. You are only using those products at your own risk.
If the parts can be replaced or not: This is very important especially for gadgets and electronic devices or appliances. The product information is usually contained in a manual and it tells you about this and a lot more. It tells you who to contact in case of a fault and whether the spare parts are available in the market.
****When next you go to a mall or the open market to shop, don’t forget to look out for all these important pieces of information on the container of the product you want to buy! I hope you loved this article. Share to someone who it might help. Don’t forget to drop your comments below. Tell me your how reading product information has helped you and other possible information you’ve gotten by reading the pack of a product you purchased. Thank you.