Food Labeling

June 16, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 22
Should the government require clearer packaging?
By Rachel Kaufman


A shopper in Irvine, Calif., learns about healthy food ingredients (AFP/Getty Images/Robyn Beck)
A shopper in Irvine, Calif., learns about healthy food ingredients as part of the “Shop with Your Doc” program sponsored by the St. Joseph Hoag Health hospital group. Consumer advocates want to make nutrition information on labels easier to understand, but some in the food industry says its Facts Up Front labeling already does that. (AFP/Getty Images/Robyn Beck)

Consumer advocates want the food industry to put clearer nutrition information on food labels, contending that manufacturers often mislead consumers by proclaiming products are “healthy” or “natural.” The critics are pressing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to define such terms and require labels to make nutrition information easier to find and comprehend. Some consumer advocates argue that a symbol such as a stoplight should be used on labels to rate food simply as “healthy” or “unhealthy.” But the food industry says it already has taken steps to give consumers more useful and understandable nutrition information, pointing to growing adoption of its Facts Up Front labeling, which lists fat, salt, sugar and calorie content on package fronts. Both sides are watching the Trump administration closely, as it already has delayed a key labeling regulation, and many observers predict more rule delays are to come. Meanwhile, critics are questioning the validity of industry-backed food research and the safety of artificial food dyes in cereal, candy and other foods.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Food Safety
Sep. 03, 2021  Food Security
Sep. 25, 2020  The Future of Meat
Feb. 15, 2019  Fast-Food Shakeout
Jun. 16, 2017  Food Labeling
Oct. 03, 2014  Food Policy Debates
Aug. 31, 2012  Genetically Modified Food
Dec. 17, 2010  Food Safety
Jan. 26, 2007  Slow Food Movement
Nov. 01, 2002  Food Safety
Mar. 30, 2001  Biotech Foods
Sep. 04, 1998  Food Safety Battle: Organic Vs. Biotech
Jun. 04, 1993  Food Safety
Jun. 12, 1992  Food Irradiation
Nov. 08, 1991  Fast-Food Shake-up
Nov. 18, 1988  How Safe Is Your Food?
Dec. 11, 1981  Controversy Over Salt in Food
Dec. 08, 1978  Fast Food: U.S. Growth Industry
May 12, 1978  Food Additives
Dec. 26, 1969  Food Additives
Dec. 04, 1968  Synthetic Foods
Jan. 20, 1960  Food Safeguards
Feb. 09, 1952  Chemicals in Foods
Dec. 18, 1934  Revision of the Pure Food and Drugs Act
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Farm Produce and Commodities
Lobbying and Special Interests
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Regulation and Deregulation