Would New Food Labels Make Us Healthier?

In the new issue of its Nutrition Action Healthletter, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has proposed a change in the familiar labels placed on U.S. food products to display nutritional information and list ingredients. Saying the label design was introduced by the federal government almost 20 years ago, CSPI argues food manufacturers are using various tricks and sneaky wording to fool consumers into buying products that falsely promise health benefits.

A proposed new design includes red lettering for some ingredients, grouping sugars together to give consumers a clearer picture of total sugar content, and high, medium, and low bullets to quickly show how a product stacks up against recommended daily limits. Calories in one serving of the product would be in larger type to be read more easily. And ingredients would not be listed in all capital letters as they are now.

Some of us pay attention to these labels and to warning signs in general, but some of us apparently don't. (I have to admit, I'm a more price-conscious food shopper this year than I was last year, although then and now, I care about added salt and sugar in processed food products I buy.) What's your opinion of the CSPI label design, and do you believe changing to this format would make American consumers healthier?

Posted by Jerry Laws on Dec 10, 2009