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Background: With increased demand for prepackaged food, the nutrient content of those products has increased especially fat, sugar, and sodium. We aimed to assess the compliance of nutritional labeling and to analyze the stated nutritional components as presented on prepackaged food products in Saudi market.
Methods: A total of 1153 foods were randomly sampled from fourteen stores. Nutritional information was taken from nutrient declarations present on food labels and assessed through a comparison of mean levels and assess compliance with Saudi Food and Drug Authority regulations.
Results: Overall, of the total number of products surveyed, 88% displayed nutritional facts, while 12% did not. Of the total products that had nutritional facts, only 38% met SFDA requirements while 97% disclosed the four key nutritional elements (energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat). In total, almost one third of the products had a high fat content, 40% were high in sugar and 20% were high in Sodium. We found also, 20% listed hydrogenated fat in their ingredient information, 90% of which was fully hydrogenated, while 10% was partially hydrogenated.
Conclusion: There was a high percentage of products that displayed nutritional facts, but only a small percentage complied with SFDA's recent regulations. Food reformulation could have an extraordinary potential to overcome the increase in nutrition-related chronic disease in Saudi Arabia, and the information acquired from this paper provides an overview of thinking about the food supply as a major source needed for a national intervention.
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