Open Letter to the Food Industry
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Dear Packaged Food Industry,
It became clear to me only recently how nearly every food label package found in even the healthiest of supermarkets obfuscates the required FDA ingredient disclosures. As a whole, the health food industry prints the typefaces as small as legally allowed by the FDA’s labeling laws. It’s hard to read ingredients on these packages, and this is mostly deliberate.
The product labels make the brand graphics large enough that they can be read from 25 feet away. But the ingredients are labeled so small that they require a 10x magnifying loupe to be clearly seen. This is extremely inconvenient for people who want to read product ingredients, and especially annoying to those who need to use reading glasses to do so.
Product ingredients should be the most prominent thing visible on every food label. Companies should be proud of their products’ ingredients—they shouldn’t make it difficult for consumers to view them.
Some of you in the industry may not realize that this situation is the case. But I’m aware that many companies know that if people take strong interest in their products’ ingredients, those consumers most likely will not purchase those products. The FDA is remiss in allowing minimization regarding product ingredient transparency—a critical aspect of consumer health.
Companies that have a high degree of concern for their ethical practices should rethink deceptive product labeling practices, in addition to ensuring that their products have good nutritional value. The innovative companies that serve truly healthy products might not rise to become the most financially successful in the short term. But I think that corporate food integrity could well be rewarded by customers’ dollars over time.
Health-conscious consumers should stop buying pseudo-health food products and in the process let the companies either change or go out of business. I believe that this is going to be a likely scenario. The health and wellness industry is going to change dramatically once again. The purest foods with the best ingredients, displayed with well-deserved pride in large typefaces, are going to win big with consumers. This will be the next big trend in the health and wellness movement.