Today, the food industry announced it would use a series of symbols on the front of food packages to inform consumers about the nutrition quality of its products. The announcement was made by two large industry trade groups, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers of America.
Consumers deserve information about the quality of foods they are buying. But can the industry be trusted to protect public health—or has it developed a self-serving labeling system that will forestall government action and lock in the status quo? That status quo leaves industry free to create, market, and sell products that are very high in sugar, fat, and salt.
The industry has not proven itself trustworthy anytime lately. A recent example of industry "self-regulation" was "Smart Choices," a program in which industry allowed itself to use a symbol of its own design on products that met its own nutrition criteria. Products like Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies qualified as smart choices. After an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General and critical comments by the Food and Drug Administration, the industry aborted the program.
Now the industry asks to be trusted yet again, this time with different symbols for the front of packages. The example of the system released by the industry appears above.