Packaging labels are about to experience a face lift. Introduced recently by select House Representatives and Senators, the 24-page Food Label Modernization Act of 2015 bill aims to require a number of changes to the labeling found on the front of food packaging.
Package labeling has been slowly evolving over the last few decades, both in creativity and practicality. A label is a product’s most essential marketing tool, but it’s also responsible for accurately and succinctly conveying vital information.
The Problem with Current Labeling
The creators of the act believe that current labeling is confusing and misleading for consumers. According to Senator Blumenthal, grocery store shelves are filled with product labeling with puzzling and deceptive information regarding ingredients and nutrition. In fact, many laws governing food labels haven’t changed since the 1990s.
Blumenthal and his co-writers feel that consumers deserve to know exactly what is in the food they eat so that they can exercise informed decision making and outsmart deceptive marketing. Accurate and well-defined labeling can support our nation’s battle against obesity and diet-related disease, but without legally requiring changes, today’s consumers can’t effectively evaluate and compare products to make healthy choices.
If the Food Modernization bill is passed, it will enforce a standard front-of-product label so that calories, serving sizes, and important nutrients are prominently displayed in a uniform and readily identifiable manner. Food items made with wheat, whole wheat, wholegrain, and multigrain will be required to include percentages on labeling claims.
Along the same lines, nutrition labels will need to differentiate between sugars and “added sugars.” But most importantly, the terms “natural” and “healthy” will need to be defined and used only within the boundaries of those definitions.
These changes come at a logical time, when consumers are already regularly placing manufacturers in the spotlight when a dishonest or unreliable claim is made. Social media has carried the voice of consumers far, and companies are now being held to a higher level of clarity and honesty.