Apathy over nutrition labels for fresh produce inexcusable - The Packer

Apathy over nutrition labels for fresh produce inexcusable

03/03/2014 02:18:00 PM
Tom Karst

“We look forward to working with the FDA and other stakeholders as these proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label make their way through the rule making process.

“It is critical that any changes are based on the most current and reliable science. Equally as important is ensuring that any changes ultimately serve to inform, and not confuse, consumers.”


But wait! The Center for Science in the Public Interest is wary of the industry’s “Facts up Front” approach and released this statement just today from CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson:

In 2011 the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food and Drug Administration design a mandatory, front-of-package labeling system that would instantly communicate a food’s overall healthfulness. Whether such a system used red, yellow, and green dots, a numerical score, or a letter grade, such labeling would clearly distinguish truly healthful foods from less healthful ones. CSPI petitioned the FDA to design and implement a front-of-package labeling system back in 2006.

To be clear, the industry’s voluntary “Facts Up Front” is not such a system. It is aimed more at preempting an FDA-designed system than at providing easy-to-understand “nutrition in a nutshell” information for consumers. Its voluntary nature means you may not see it on junk foods. And even if you did, it wouldn’t successfully highlight the food’s unhealthfulness. Facts Up Front is a joke that should be roundly ignored by the FDA and the Administration. We need an FDA-designed front-of-package system that is mandatory, easily understood by even less-educated consumers, and science-based.



TK: Perhaps the saddest thing about this hard-charging attempt to tweak the nutrition facts label is that nobody has anything to say about fresh fruits and vegetables. For the fresh produce department, nutrition labeling is voluntary. Why hasn’t the retail industry heartily embraced nutrition labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables? After all, the FDA offers downloadable posters with nutrition facts for top fruits and vegetables.

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