Message: On any label that lists “wheat flour,” it should note that it is white flour. I think that many consumers might assume that wheat flour is whole wheat flour. Presently, the food processing industry likes to use the term wheat flour, knowing very well that many consumers mistakenly assume it is whole wheat.
Years ago, white flour was merely listed as “white flour.” Everyone understood that white flour was made from wheat. If the ingredient were soy, rye, corn or oat flour, it would never be listed as white flour.
The term “wheat flour” is intended to mislead the consumer. When white flour is the ingredient, it should be designated “white flour,” not wheat flour.
Message: What I’d *really* like to see on food labels is some sort of indicator of when they last changed the recipe — as someone with an atypical food allergy, I hate when I bring home a previously-safe food only to discover they’ve tinkered with it and made it deadly for me. A date? A version number? Something so that I can look at the packaging and know it’s changed or not recently and if I need to read through the ingredients again.
Message: Thanks for taking this project on. While I appreciate your attempt to modify the label and make it more user friendly, please do not forget the diabetic who often completely relies on the CHO content to determine insulin dosing. When the gram numbers on the package get too small, we struggle to read them(and glasses are not always readily available!).
Percentages are nice, but not really very useful. Gylcemic index is an increasingly useful tool.
Keep up the good work.
I worked to improve school lunches for years —such a challenge!!
I do like where your minds are headed with these ideas but think you need to get an R.D. on board. I have a degree in Dietetics, but I have not finished my internship nor taken the R.D. exam yet, but I have a couple ideas.
Include some sort of warning or explanation for certain nutrients. Try to promote eating the good foods instead of denying the bad. People have an easier time of being told what to eat instead of being told ‘no’ all the time. Example, for fiber, make a note of its benefits and what it promotes. Outline the idea that USFAs are a good thing in moderation. Most people will never meet any elitist standards, but I think if they can get more of the good stuff (fiber is key), they will automatically be forced away from the bad. Please feel free to contact me with comments or questions.
From: Sarah Logan
When I read the NY Times article about new labels being proposed I was thrilled, my excitement was short lived. Given that some of these labels might actually be considered, or some of their design aspects, I grew alarmed. Missing from all of these labels, and the current label we have now, is the requirement that grams of potassium be listed. Before my kidney transplant I had to count certain nutrients against a medically directed daily allowance, protein, sodium, and potassium being the main ones. Proteins and sodium are fairly simple once you learn the basics, however potassium is not. Unfortunately it is often used in food as a hidden flavorant, particularly in “low sodium” foods. High potassium levels pose a real medical risk for persons with kidney failure, one that can lead to an acute medical event, not the chronic damage that comes with sodium. Prior to my kidney transplant I was rabid about counting my daily grams of potassium, consulting the USDA nutrient data before meals etc. and I still landed in the ER with dangerously high potassium.
Any food label that does not include the grams for each labeled nutrient (including vitamins and minerals) per serving is a waste of space. The simpler the label is the better, most of the redesigned labels created visual noise, which distracted from essential information. I’m including the front runners in this critique.
I suppose this is more of plea than an inquiry, please include potassium and please keep nutrient grams. Percentages mean nothing when your diet is medically modified.
Sarah, Thank you for your concern, we hope these designs might help inspire the FDA on their very well-researched journey to rethink the nutritional facts label. I agree that there are some designs that are outlandish, fanciful, and in some cases a not helpful at all. Even so, we are thrilled to see designers and the public passionate about this issue and pushing the boundaries of what a food label can be. We hope these designs will foster a dialogue that will lead to a better label. Thank you for your feedback, and all my best, Lily and the Rethink Team
"Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend." - Wendell Berry