business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine has “told federal regulators that the epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases warrants a single rating system to help consumers sort through nutritional information.”

The experts devised a system that it says is easy enough for even kids to use, the Post writes: “Under the panel’s plan, products would be graded in three categories — added sugar, sodium and fats. If the sodium level is acceptable, for example, the product would get a point (or check mark, or maybe a star). The same goes for the added sugar and fats, for a maximum of three points or symbols for each product.

“Some products may earn no points. For instance, a sugary soda may have low levels of sodium and fat, but it would not be eligible for points because of its high sugar content, the group said. Also, the calorie count would have to be displayed in familiar measures, such as ‘per cup’.”

The Post notes that “the food and beverage industry, which launched its own labeling initiative this year, immediately resisted the plan, arguing that consumers do not want the government to interpret information for them.”
KC's View:
It seems entirely fair to me that at this point, we ought to give the front-of-package system created by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) - supplemented by programs like Nuval and Guiding Stars that have been adopted by individual companies - a chance to work before we start looking for government-imposed programs.