It seems that someone over at the FDA has noticed that consumers might not realize what packages do and do not tell them about processed foods. The agency may have even caught on to the fact that some consumers are being mislead by health claims on packages of foodstuffs that are really better left on the shelf. While all packages are required to have the nutritional data chart somewhere on them, most consumers are much more likely to read the prominently placed, boldly colored logos on the fronts of packages rather than the boring chart in a tiny font on the side, back, or bottom with all of its numbers and percentages - aren't they?
Well, the gov'ment wants to find out. Badly enough that they're conducting an internet study of approximately 43,000 people, in fact! As per the FDA's statement, the goals of the study are as follows:
(1) identify attitudes and beliefs among consumers toward health, diet and label usage; (2) determine relationships between those attitudes and beliefs, as well as demographics, with food label use and non-use; and (3) evaluate the relative importance of these attitudes between consumers of various age groups to determine whether barriers to label use differ between younger consumers and older consumers. The information collected from the study is necessary to inform the agency's efforts to improve consumer understanding and use of the food label.
This sounds like a worthwhile venture to me, and I truly, truly hope that it leads to some kind of real change in what kinds of health claims food companies are allowed to make on their packages. If you care about these things (and you should), head on over to the internet listing for the study and leave a comment showing your support!
(For you more conventional types, you can also send snail mail to Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Just don't forget to include the docket number: FDA-2009-N-0345. Happy writing!)