Strike Two for Front-of-Package Food Labeling
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
January 24, 2011
In 2009, the food industryís fatally flawed Smart Choices labeling program became a national laughingstock for putting its logo on junk foods like Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes. Today, the industry is striking out again with its new front-of-package Nutrition Keys. Itís a scheme consisting of confusing icons that will be largely ignored by consumers.
Itís unfortunate the industry wouldnít adopt a more effective system or simply wait until the Food and Drug Administration developed a system that would be as useful to consumers as possible.
The whole point of front-label nutrition information or symbols should be to convey quickly and simply how healthful a food is. A system with green, yellow, and red dots to indicate whether a food has a good, middling, or poor nutritional quality would probably be a lot more effective than industryís system. Alternatively, numerical ratings from -100 to +100 or 0 to 10 would allow people to easily compare one brand of food to another. In contrast, Nutrition Keys system appears to be designed to distract consumersí attention from, not highlight, the high content of sodium, added sugars, or saturated fat in all too many processed foods.