Today, grocery store shelves are filled with “healthy”, “whole wheat” and “all natural” snacks and snacks. But when you look closely at the nutrients and ingredients, some of these foods actually contain sugar, fat, salt or artificial flavors.To combat misleading claims, legislators recently introduced a Food Label Modernization Act of 2021, This will require and standardize a packaging front labeling system that tells consumers whether a product is healthy-or whether it is healthy.
The labeling system will include an easily recognizable symbol that will be used to rate the health of the food. One option is the traffic light icon: if the food is rich in sugar and fat, turn the light red, for example, if the food is low in fat and rich in vitamins, it will be green, and if it is in between, it will be yellow. Another system proposed in the bill would use asterisks: five stars are considered to be high-fiber, low-calorie granola, and artificially sweetened and colored grains are represented by one star. If the product contains high amounts of saturated or trans fat, sodium or added sugar, there will be additional warnings on the label.
The bill includes further requirements for the declaration of certain ingredients. Any food with the word “whole grain” on its packaging must state the actual percentage of whole grain content. Products that claim to contain fruits or vegetables—even those that only have pictures of apples or tomatoes on the label—must state how many of these ingredients they contain. The bill stipulates that the appearance of these labels will be standardized, as well as their location on food packaging, bags or boxes.
Supermarket shoppers are undoubtedly familiar with the nutrition label on the back of the package-these black and white boxes indicate how many calories, sugar or milligrams of cholesterol, and other nutrients are contained in a food. The US Food and Drug Administration required and standardized these labels in 1990 to better inform the public, but they don’t always prompt consumers to choose one food over another, says Jason, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. Lusk said. Positive notifications can be more obvious and persuasive. “Research does show that, compared with standard nutrition labeling, the front label of the package has a greater impact on consumer choice,” he said.
But Lusk explained that these marks have pros and cons. On the one hand, some studies have shown that people do not always react predictably to them. “You may see a product containing’low sodium’, but this may send people a signal that’this tastes bad’,” and discourage them from buying, he said. Another disadvantage is that it is difficult to create a one-size-fits-all definition. “People have very subtle and conflicting views about the meaning of’health’,” Lusk said. In addition, Lusk pointed out that the space on the front of the packaged food is limited, so the appearance and fit of the label may affect its efficacy.
David Just, an agricultural economist at Cornell University, said that the meaning of symbols may also be lost in supermarkets. Even for the most savvy and nutritious consumers, supermarkets are often a Places of confusion and overstimulation.Shoppers “just looking for the main points of the product [whether] Some things are healthy or unhealthy,” he said. Just said that busy people who do multiple tasks at the same time don’t always have the time or bandwidth to read and consider the complex labels on the front of every product they put in their shopping carts. He explained that most decisions are made on a subconscious level.
In other words, Just believes that the new bill does solve a real problem, “and may have a positive impact.” He said that some countries in Europe have already put traffic light labels on food to classify their health. , Similar to the proposal of the new bill. “We are not the only country dealing with this issue,” Just said. In 2016, Chile passed a law that mandates warning labels to be placed on the front of packaging. Although the direct impact of the requirement on indicators such as obesity is unclear, some companies have reformulated their products to remove sugar, salt or saturated fat from their diets to avoid warning labels. Both Just and Lusk pointed out that independent grocery stores have successfully implemented a traffic light or star system to classify foods according to their nutritional value. “When we see such a simple system in place, it usually has a pretty positive impact on shoppers who are not too concerned about nutrition,” Just said.
The Food Label Modernization Act, introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey on August 3, has been assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for research and review. Congress is now in a summer recess (although the House of Representatives recently returned early to vote on a potential $3.5 trillion budget resolution), and no further actions have been scheduled for food labeling legislation.