Food Labels Show Contempt for Consumers
For years, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released generalized information on the food industry’s compliance, or non-compliance, with labeling regulations. Since CFIA allows manufacturers a 20 percent fudge factor in what they put on their labels, a reasonable consumer might expect compliance to be high. Differences in testing equipment and batches of ingredients can make it difficult to provide exact percentages, but 20 percent is more than adequate wiggle room for telling consumers what they are eating.
According to the new report, the gap between what labels promise and what they deliver can be staggering. Here are a few examples from CFIA tests:
- Krispy Kernels Inc.’s Island mixed nuts claimed each serving provided 90 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron; the actual RDA was 10.5 percent.
- Lays Smart Selections chips supposedly had “no cholesterol” but contained 4.3 milligrams per serving.
- Yves Veggie Cuisine Ground Round from Hain Celestial Group claimed a serving provided 80 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, while test results showed 3 percent.
- Sun Rype labels promised twice the vitamin content their juices contained.
- Tempest Tea’s green tea beverage promised 5 calories but delivered 106.
The government will change how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors and enforces non-health and non-safety food labelling regulations. The CFIA will introduce a web-based label verification tool that encourages consumers to bring validated concerns directly to companies and associations for resolution.
Minister Flaherty did not explain how consumers could validate their concerns nor why manufacturers would pay more attention to individuals than they do to government regulators. Apparently the federal government is content with industry’s questionable record on truth in labeling.
I think I’ll stick to fresh food…and novels.
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