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Blog U.S. food labels suck

U.S. food labels suck

The United States has no shortage of problems. 

But one that may not attract the headlines it should is ‘Merica’s nutrition crisis. 

Researchers say one way to clean up the mess is by updating our confusing nutrition labels that obscure what’s actually in our food.

Let’s take a look.

What we’re watching

Revamped food labeling efforts in the U.S. have stalled for decades. As a result, we’re still using guidelines that researchers agree are confusing and unhelpful for those striving to make healthier choices.

On top of that, many food manufacturers intentionally use misleading food labels to convey their product is healthy. Even keen-eyed health nuts may be led astray by flashy labels like “Keto-approved,” “Made With Real Vegetables or Fruit,” or “No Cholesterol.”

Why it matters

Diet-related deaths in the U.S. outrank deaths from smoking. And about half of U.S. deaths from heart disease – which is nearly 900 deaths a day – are linked to a crappy diet. 

The primary culprit is processed foods that are full of amounts of salt, sugar, fats, and other additives.

Researchers say adopting clearer food labeling standards would better inform shoppers' decisions, thereby helping them make healthier choices. 

Consumers care

FMI-Nielsen reports that 72% of shoppers say more transparent product information and labeling are important to them. 

Unsurprisingly, consumers want ingredients listed in plain English and more complete nutritional information than current labeling provides. They also want serving sizes that make logical sense.

The same study found that customers are willing to pay for more transparency in labels as 64% of buyers say they’d switch to a new brand that provides clearer nutritional info.

That’s kinda crazy

Did you know that nutritional labels can be up to 20% inaccurate, according to the FDA guidelines

Scientists say you shouldn’t be too worried though if you’re keeping a healthy diet. They also say the actual margin for error is usually 10% or less.

Europe offers hope

Seven European countries’ nutrition label rules provide a model of how the U.S. can approach this conundrum.

The Nutri-Score system offers shoppers a quick, clear, and comprehensive view of nutrition in food products. The system is a five-color nutrition label that shows the overall nutritional value of food products by assigning products a rating letter from A (best) to E (worst).

Studies have shown a positive health impact as research suggests a connection between Nutri-Score and healthier purchases.

It’s also compelled more food businesses to aim to improve their rankings, thereby creating more healthy options. The system may soon expand to the whole European Union.

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