A Menu of Labeling Format in Malaysia

Over 25 years ago, Ministry of Health (MOH) enacted the Food Act 1983, followed by Food Regulations 1985 with the main objective of protecting the public against health hazards in food and fraud in preparation, sale and use. Then, nutrition claims were introduced and permitted by MOH in 2003.

Numerous amendments have also been made to these regulations in requests of the food industry and consumer needs over the years. It was first published in 2005 and updated in 2007. The primary objective of nutrition labeling and claims still remain as a tool to assist the consumers in making better food choices when planning their daily meals.

Despite the good function and objectives of nutrition labeling, its format is often listed in a long written form or shared in a discussion report, which is less memorable to a commoner like me. After doing a thorough study, I have decided to present these with information design. It is hope that with this initiative, it will enhance one’s understanding and learning of nutritional labeling format in Malaysia.

 

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Finding My Ground

At the end of year 2012, I have held a one-week infographic exhibition with a group of my students. The theme was Malaysiaku, The Unforgotten Negara. The objective was to celebrate love and sense of appreciation to fellow Malaysians in conjunction with the National Day through contemporary vibrant infographic design.

That was also the first time such exhibition was held to display the journey of Malaysia’s independence, the wonders of the 13 states and federal territories, the amazing infrastructures as well as cultural heritage and social interests in the country. Within 14 weeks, students went through the journey of researching, collating data, conceptualising ideas to executing their individual final piece. It was a bittersweet journey because the exhibition received wide exposure in the media.

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Ever since then, my interest in information design has inclined. Through many conversations on how I can best put this interest into reality and benefit my career in a long-run, my partner has encouraged me to consider doing a PhD in this area while staying aligned with my design background. I had a really hard time deciding what exactly I can do with these 2 areas.

After much readings, I was excited about numerous of topics that I can tap into. It is when the sharing sessions with my partner that often placed me in a speechless position to realise that, I do not have a concrete understanding of what I would like to further research in. Points and ideas fell all over the place. For months, those discussions were indeed devastating and left me with many doubts and sleepless nights. Many times, I came back to square one, again and again seeking a clear topic in both information and design.

One day, a suggestion during our casual conversation shed a light – to look into the nutritional label design on food packaging!

“Why do they always look the same in most applications? Do people really read them? The information seems redundant on such nice packaging.”

She immediately posted another question: “Does that consider information design or data visualisation, to be precise?”

If you are a nutritionist – you’ll look at the label to see if the nutritions are healthy for consumption; or as a health consultant – you’ll be asking what should consumers be aware of when buying a product; or as a marketing strategist – you’ll want to know how do consumers make their purchase decision with the labels.

I, would love to play the role as a designer to re-look at the nutritional labels design – the design elements, the terminologies used and the way the data is presented. In short, to give a serious facelift to the current nutritional label design so they can be better informed or even better, with the enhancement it will work as an everyday practice for them.

Seems like a doable topic that I’ll be able to make contribution in this area. Back to an earlier question, is this an information design or data visualisation?

Time to do more, and more readings to be grounded!