Never before have consumers had so many icons, symbols and logos devoted to improving their eating habits. Sensible Solutions, low-fat, SmartSpot, gluten-free, and all the other branded and generic guidance is meant to make healthful shopping convenient, though industry observers increasingly worry it's confusing shoppers more.
One of the concerned parties is the Food and Drug Administration, which is officially taking up the matter, starting with a hearing on labels. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, has long advocated a single, national set of symbols to convey nutrition information.
“The marketplace is turning into a mess with inconsistent symbols,” he said. “I think it's confusing and will get more so.”
Other countries, including Great Britain and Sweden, already have effective government-designed symbol programs.
The issue has captured the attention of manufacturers, trade groups, and health and consumer groups, an FDA spokesman said, adding that regulators will continue taking comments through mid-November.