Process Labeling of Food: An Ongoing Conversation for Consumers

Take a look at your local grocery store shelves or the food advertisements on your television, and you will see a reoccurring trend–food with stickers and packages of different shapes, sizes, and colors promoting an array of feel-good, environmentally friendly assertions. Labels such as hormone free, all natural, organic, cage free, antibiotic free, grass fed, and non-GMO litter the food market. This makes the task of determining what exactly is healthy food a very confusing one for the average consumer. In a 2015 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) publication, Kent D. Messer and other well-respected authors bring attention to the fact that, though process labeling includes many benefits, there are potential unintended consequences. This specific issue paper presents a systematic review of the current use of food process labels and their effects on food and the agricultural sector. 

Here are a few articles recently addressing the subject:

This Consumer Reports article helps to distinguish between food labels that are federally regulated and those that are used as a marketing strategy. Reading labels found on packages can give you the impression that the food inside is a healthier choice when that might not actually be the case. Can you read between the lines, or are you falling for the marketing eye-catchers?

Cheryl Baldwin, vice president of consulting for Pure Strategies, states that farmers will face three new food value realities in the months to come. These values include a reduction in chemical use throughout the production process of foods, a closer focus on category-specific issues, and an increase in consumer engagement to help shoppers connect with products.

An article written by Elizabeth Crawford states that New York will be enforcing menu labeling–such as calorie counts, full nutritional information available, and a statement about the daily recommended intake of 2,000 calories.

Additionally, these two articles written by Elaine Watson and Ciaran Moran provide insight into the process labeling of food on a global scale. 
By: Kylie Peterson

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