Thursday, June 1, 2017

Process Labeling of Food: An Ongoing Conversation for Consumers

Take a look at your local grocery store shelves or the food advertisements on your television, and you will see a reoccurring trend--food with stickers and packages of different shapes, sizes, and colors promoting an array of feel-good, environmentally friendly assertions. Labels such as hormone free, all natural, organic, cage free, antibiotic free, grass fed, and non-GMO litter the food market. This makes the task of determining what exactly is healthy food a very confusing one for the average consumer. In a 2015 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) publication, Kent D. Messer and other well-respected authors bring attention to the fact that, though process labeling includes many benefits, there are potential unintended consequences. This specific issue paper presents a systematic review of the current use of food process labels and their effects on food and the agricultural sector. 

Here are a few articles recently addressing the subject:

This Consumer Reports article helps to distinguish between food labels that are federally regulated and those that are used as a marketing strategy. Reading labels found on packages can give you the impression that the food inside is a healthier choice when that might not actually be the case. Can you read between the lines, or are you falling for the marketing eye-catchers?
Cheryl Baldwin, vice president of consulting for Pure Strategies, states that farmers will face three new food value realities in the months to come. These values include a reduction in chemical use throughout the production process of foods, a closer focus on category-specific issues, and an increase in consumer engagement to help shoppers connect with products.

An article written by Elizabeth Crawford states that New York will be enforcing menu labeling--such as calorie counts, full nutritional information available, and a statement about the daily recommended intake of 2,000 calories.
Additionally, these two articles written by Elaine Watson and Ciaran Moran provide insight into the process labeling of food on a global scale. 
By: Kylie Peterson

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