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Food Labels Show Contempt for Consumers

Food Labels Show Contempt for Consumers

If I want fiction, I’ll pick up a novel, not a food label. But according to data unearthed by Postmedia News, I might as well cruise the grocery story aisles for a dose of creative writing.

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 federal government’s response to the non-compliance and bogus claims has been to cut CFIA’s budget by $56.1 million. Throwing an odd bone to consumers, Finance Minister James Flaherty announced:

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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78 comments

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8:52AM PST on Jan 28, 2013

Thanks

5:58AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

they'd rather follow the letter than the intent of the law to inform the consumer

5:05AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

make your own

5:43AM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

It is easy to avoid lying labels by simply cooking fresh, locally grown organic produce from scratch, and if not a veg using locally raised chicken, beef etc. However not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have three farm stands within a ten mile radius, and small scale responsible animal husbandry selling healthy free range, field raised meats from 5 to less than 45 minutes away.

As things stand now the FDA is useless, with all the legal shackles and hoops they are expected to jump through thanks to the prevalence of Big Ag and the likes of Monsanto manipulating the laws for their advantage. Given the sort of freedom and the real clout it needs to act the FDA could do its job, but as matters stand now they are like a poor relative standing on the sidelines wringing their hands while thieves steal the silverware.

8:01PM PDT on May 23, 2012

It's despicable! I've noticed this on various items. For example, it will contain nuts or oils and claim it has 0 fat grams--how stupid do you think we are?!

8:19AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

thanks :)

7:31AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

How can potato chips have cholesterol? They're made with vegetable oil!

5:46AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Non si può credere più a nessuno.

7:07PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Who can we believe anymore???

6:21PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

I view most labels with a healthy suspiscion.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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