Front-of-Package Labels

Years ago, I had a student in my college nutrition class with a heavy eastern European accent; when he spoke, everyone listened. He chose his words carefully and cleverly made his points. One day he offered this pearl, “You Americans must be told everything; even how to open door. I see all time ‘push and pull’; you cannot figure out?”  (I hope you read that with an accent.) We were talking about food labels at the time. And we still are.

This year the Food and Drug Administration will be instituting an overhaul of the front of our food packages. There are so many symbols, emblems, logos, codes and gizmos, no one can keep up with this shortcut language. Nor, do the providers of these sponsoring institutions reveal their criteria. Hearts, smiley faces and health claims run roughshod on package fronts. So, Big Gov. is going to help us out by giving a score to each food’s overall nutritional value – perhaps using a stoplight logo – red, yellow, green indicator – to help us make our selections.

But wait, I’ve got a better and CHEAPER idea (since you certainly know you’re paying for every word that goes on that label); why not check out the contents of that package? Surely we Americans can read the shredded wheat cereal box ingredient list; it says: contains whole grain wheat. The Cocoa Puffs ingredient list begins with whole grain corn, sugar, corn syrup, corn meal, canola and/or rice bran oil, cocoa processed with alkali…need I go further?

And, I bet we’re smart enough to know the shredded wheat would be a better nutrition choice compared to the Cocoa Puffs. Why are we making this so difficult? Certainly we can tell the healthy food from the not-so-healthy, yes, Comrade?

Read an ingredient label, to
Be well,
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