December 1, 2006
Food Babel -- CSPI Wants Uniform "Healthy Food" Labeling System
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a petition with the FDA asking it to create uniform "healthy food" symbols that would replace the sometimes meaningless or misleading symbols designed by processed food manufacturers.
“The supermarket is teeming with competing ‘healthy food’ symbols that run the gamut from highly helpful to fatally flawed,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But a prominent and reliable symbol on the fronts of packages would be a tremendous help to those harried shoppers racing through the supermarket. Not everyone has the time or knowledge to scrutinize the Nutrition Facts labels or to decode the symbols Kraft, PepsiCo, General Mills, or other companies happen to be using.”
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According to CSPI, well-designed “healthy food” symbols would steer Americans away from foods that promote obesity, heart disease, and other serious health problems, and toward fresh and processed foods that promote good health.
What foods would those be, exactly? And who gets to decide? Don't we already have this with FDA-approved health claims? Do food packaging claims (FDA-approved or not) actually serve to educate consumers?
“The FDA should tear down this Tower of Babel propped up by food companies, and give consumers the reliable information they need at a glance,” said CSPI legal affairs director Bruce Silverglade, who was a driving force in winning passage of the 1990 law that led to the Nutrition Facts label.
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