GOOD

The Food Industry Tries to Redesign the Nutrition Label, Fails

The food industry tried to beat the FDA to the punch by redesigning the nutrition label first. Surprise: It might actually confuse consumers.

In January, food industry giants launched a new food label for the front of packaged foods—Nutrition Keys (above)—which was widely seen as an attempt to influence or divert the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ongoing efforts to create better labeling. That's a problem.


In an opinion piece published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, says that the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute’s label is a “unilateral, unscientific, preemptive approach taken by the food companies.” Brownell was even more blunt when I called him: "The industry has been given a chance to police itself and they've failed." In other words, it can't be trusted.

The label includes only four mandatory categories—calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar—and leaves plenty of room for food companies to highlight the nutrients of their choice. So rather than making nutritional information clearer, the design might actually confuse consumers now faced with rotating nutrients, making it more difficult to compare products.

Other nations are already testing out better alternatives, like Britain's “traffic light” label (above) that color-codes daily values as red for unhealthy, yellow for moderately good for you, and green for healthy. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway use the "keyhole" system (below), which indicates healthy food with a simple black or green keyhole mark of approval. If you see the keyhole, the food is deemed healthy.

Will we see that kind of Scandinavian simplicity here? Probably not. Brownell says the “keyhole” system wouldn't work in the United States because the food industry’s powerful lobby would block such a black-and-white system that categorized every food as either healthy or unhealthy. “The problem is that the industry mantra is that there is no bad food,” he says. “Why would the food industry want people to eat in a healthier way? That would mean they'd have to sell less food overall.”

Perhaps it's worth exploring a more qualitative approach. Brownell told me he'd like to see "a label that provides the consumers with the evaluative part, not just the numbers. They need to understand what those numbers mean." Considering what we're up against, I'd have to say I agree.

Lily is part of Rethink the Food Label, an ongoing collaboration with GOOD and News21. For more about the project, click here.

Top image via GMA; middle image via FSA; bottom image via NFA.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading