Front-of-package labeling: Barely worth the bother

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Friday, I argued against soda-tax proposals because I don’t see how proponents could win a high-enough tax to affect consumer behavior, which should be their only justification. And while weaker versions that were doomed to failure were being tried, industry would use them as justification to not try other measures.

Another measure, front-of-package labeling, is a similar sot unlikely to bring about healthier eating. A considerable amount of nutritional information is already on packaging, so moving their location suggests that their ineffectiveness in convincing people to act differently is due to location, not information. But unless we’re willing to follow Australia’s cigarette-packaging example, which uses most package real-estate for anti-smoking information and dictates type style and size for the little brand information there is, we’re just tinkering.

People who want the information already know where to find it, both on the side panel and on the Net. In the meantime, industry is able to forestall real change by pointing to such micro-steps as evidence of caring and willingness to change.

You know how you can tell if an industry “curb” is a waste of time? If industry proposes it, or fights it only for a long period instead of tooth and nail, it's probably worthless.

Next: Big Food pledges.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
make investments in employee wellbeing that pay off in corporate success.
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