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Editor's Note

Same old label needs an update

April 8, 2014
KEYWORDS food trends
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I’m an avid reader of food labels. On a typical trip to the supermarket, I get some of my most useful reading accomplished. When buying a new food or beverage product, I always check the total number of calories per serving and per container, as well as the trans fat, fiber and sugar levels. But when I look at other shoppers in the grocery store, they’re not catching up on label reading. They’re usually trying to control their children, reading their text messages while waiting in the checkout line or calling their significant others to make sure they’re bringing home the correct, obscure ingredient from the baking aisle.

While I enjoy label reading, it’s usually the same old story with a few points of difference in the percentage of daily value column. So, when it was announced recently that the food nutrition facts label would be getting a makeover, I was delighted. But when I saw the new label mock-ups, I was a bit disappointed.

Key nutrition facts such as serving per container and calories are much more prominent—definitely a step in the right direction for consumer health. But in our fast-moving, visually obsessed world, couldn’t stakeholders do a little better with the graphic design?

For instance, a dash of color or big red circles around pertinent information might help boost readership. Of course, different aspects of the label appeal to different people. Someone looking to add calcium to his or her diet may not care about dietary fiber. But a more modern and eye-catching design couldn’t hurt.

Someday, perhaps, nutrition facts labels will become marketing tools because of certain ingredients or a lack of them. For example, I never dreamed I would be eating a product called Fiber One and trading in my favorite diet soda for water and homemade, unsweetened iced tea. I may have changed, but the labels have remained pretty much the same.

 Let’s check back in five years. I hope the nutrition facts label not only will be even more useful to consumers, but more visually enticing to boost shopper readership.  

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