Changes Proposed for Food Labels - Signal Theory

FDA comment period and proposed legislation surrounding labeling definitions could have drastic changes for food packaging.

All Natural LogoFood claims continue to be a hot topic. Whether it’s natural, organic, gluten-free, fat free, etc., these labels influence how consumers make purchase decisions. But do consumers know what those labels really mean? Do food companies have their own definitions?All Natural Logo

Specifically, the term “natural” is under review, as the current definition from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is vague and not federally mandated. The FDA has opened up a public comment period until Feb. 10, 2016 on how “natural” should be defined. The Washington Post reports that the broad term is found on nearly $40.7 billion worth of food items.

Legislation has also been introduced to require more specific definitions for the terms “natural” and “healthy,” among others. The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 was introduced in November. In the bill, the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary will be tasked with creating a single standard for front-of package labeling for all food products. The bill also proposes that food manufacturers list the percent daily values for sugar and calories, as well as any added artificial or natural coloring, on the Nutrition Facts label.

FoodThink research shows consumers lack commitment to healthy eating. The majority of Americans (72 percent) agree they’re trying to eat healthier, but less than half (44 percent) say they are firmly committed to a healthy diet. The 2014 survey also showed 54 percent of consumers appreciate it when food companies, restaurants or grocery stores try to help them make healthier choices, and 44 percent are willing to pay more for products they consider to be healthy. Only time will tell if these changes to food labels will help consumers make more informed choices when it comes to purchase decisions.

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