Friday, October 28, 2011

It's All Government Cheese

A new report out by several government agencies suggests that food packaging labels offers too much information and not enough guidance. It sounds like they seek to replace existing nutritional information with a symbolic system of healthfulness, but I'm not sure. It may be in addition to nutrition information.

The study was conducted "In light of the persistent disconnect between dietary recommendations and Americans' actual diets."
The committee concludes that it is time for a fundamental shift in strategy, a move away from systems that mostly provide nutrition information without clear guidance about its healthfulness, and toward one that encourages healthier food choices through simplicity, visual clarity, and the ability to convey meaning without written information.

Who decides what is healthy? Anyone not making the cut and deemed to be acceptably situated on the scale of healthfulness will be a loser, so what is and what is not considered healthy will have to be negotiated amongst the powers that be. Such a process could politicize the labeling system and the science that is used to argue for a particular label.

In effect, this is a new risk communication system.

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