The debate over the merits of food labelling and the relative effectiveness of said labels has involved heated exchanges and fierce verbal quarrels amongst politicians and lawmakers for years now. Given the fact that label legislation affects a wide variety of industries, including both the product that is being labelled and those designing the label itself, it’s easy to understand why so many are either fierce proponents of label reform or passionately against such measures.
The question must be asked, however: are food labels making us fat? The answer isn’t as easy as you may think. Although a label itself is, obviously, unable to induce weight gain, many critics of current food labels claim that current labelling conventions are too difficult to understand. Because of this confusion, consumers may purchase products which they think are healthy, only to later discover that they have been ingesting substantial amounts of calories and fat.
So, perhaps a suitable answer to the aforementioned question is this: food labels aren’t making us fat, but a lack of skill in reading food labels is. If a food label requires training in order to be read properly, the chances are good that most of us just won’t be able to find the time or energy to learn how to decode these puzzles. If food label manufacturers do intend to serve their customers to the best of their abilities, then they must get serious about creating labels that don’t leave us guessing as to what we are actually eating.
For those who are interested in learning more about the ongoing saga of food label reform, a simple Google search can provide all of the information you could ever want. Politicians in Europe and the United States have been feuding regularly, fighting to determine exactly how and where vital nutrition information should be presented. In most scenarios, the old-guard of food labels have lost these battles to advocates of new ideas and aesthetics. This is, of course, much more than just a blow to the ego. Businesses who have been forced to change their food labels have had to stomach substantial financial investments in these process. Essentially, the more products made, the more expensive such changes will be.
It will be very interesting to observe how food labels evolve in the upcoming months, particularly in contested areas where these squabbles have become a recurring part of the legislative process.