food labels

Reputations are a funny thing. It takes years to build them but mere seconds to destroy them.

Cargill, a company that provides all manner of agricultural products and services, has managed to ruin its reputation with farmers and science writers in a single tweet. On March 17, the company announced its partnership with the thoroughly wretched Non-GMO Project*, an anti-biotech organization that sticks a goofy "non-GMO verified" label on everything from water to kitty litter.

Here's the tweet:

And the flood gates swung open wide. The backlash was swift, brutal, and...

Foods are labeled with a lot of information to help consumers make the best choices based on nutritional content — see example below.

But this information isn't always used appropriately — a consumer may not understand it or not be willing to take the time to figure out what's best for him or her. So various schemes have been proposed to make choices easier, but still accurate, as we've discussed before.

In the British Commonwealth, a system called the "Traffic Light" label has been used. A group of investigators in New Zealand  wanted to ascertain whether this or another type of interpretive label would be more useful for consumers than the non-interpretive version above. Their...

For many of us, there's often a tug of war when making some food choices. Should we go for the yummy snack that's high in sugar/fat/calories, or opt for the healthier version? Nutrition labels are supposed to help with that — help us choose health over taste. But judging by Americans' expanding waistlines, maybe we need more help.  Researchers from Bonn University in Germany and Ohio State University collaborated to investigate the possibility of aids to change food choices and published their results in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.

According to these authors, previous research has identified traffic light (TL) labeling as an effective means of conveying the healthfulness of food products to...

What's in your hot dog? (Credit: Shutterstock) What's in your hot dog? (Credit: Shutterstock)

Food fraud is outrageously common. In 2013, the United Kingdom was rocked by a scandal in which products thought to contain only beef were adulterated with horse meat. Some products, instead of being 100% beef, were 100% horse meat. That same year, it was revealed that...


We all know about nutrition facts labels on foods — whether we use them or not. But what about those other labels? You know, the ones that say 'sell by' or 'use by.' Is it safe to ignore them? Does the government mandate their appearance on foods?  Those labels are about food quality rather than safety. Here's a rundown of currently used labels according to the USDA:

  • Sell by: This...

shutterstock_102158047In the hopes that students will make use of them, many college dining halls post nutrition information near their food selections. The question arises — do the students even notice the labels, and if so, do they use them?

What would be the best placement to get diners' attention? A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics investigated these questions.

Food economist Dr. Brenna Ellison and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, investigated...

shutterstock_367851911 Label for Fresh Apples via Shutterstock

Food labels have been around for years, mandated by the FDA. They show calories, serving size, fat, carbs and some vitamins, etc. Somehow, though, they don't seem to have had an effect on obesity rates, which is one important goal.

Many people have complained that the label is hard to use, causing the agency to provide more guidance...

OlivesCoverDear People of Vermont,

Please be assured that this is not personal.  Although I have never met either of you, I have never heard anyone utter a single bad word about you, so I can only assume that you are fine people.

I am sorry that I cannot say the same about your Genetically Modified labeling law. A number of adjectives can be fairly applied to it, and none are flattering:

  1. Unscientific
  2. Unnecessary
  3. Counterproductive
  4. Costly
  5. Misleading
  6. Disruptive
  7. Stupid
  8. Almost certainly corrupt

It is one of those laws that sounds good on...

shutterstock_287832701-2 Reading Food Labels via Shutterstock

Shopping for food can be a bewildering experience especially if you're pressed for time, and/or trying to decide on purchasing something you've not used before. Both factors can have an impact on how much time, and effort you spend, to get information on the nutritional value of the food you're interested in.

I'm not talking about the "Nutrition Facts" panel that...

caged chicken via shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

US Right To Know (USRTK) a corporate-funded advocacy group was founded on the idea that the parts of the food industry not paying them has a lot to hide. USRTK says its mission is to educate the public about organic food and get labels on products that use...