retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “released 17 warning letters to food manufacturers, making good on a vow to crack down on misleading labels on food packages. The agency accused the companies of pumping up the nutritional claims of their products or masking contents like unhealthy fats. The letters went out to the makers of a broad array of products, including Gerber baby food, Juicy Juice, Dreyer’s ice cream, POM pomegranate juice and Gorton’s fish fillets.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association(GMA) issued the following statement regarding the letter, which was sent by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg:
 
“The food and beverage industry is committed to providing consumers with the products and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  GMA agrees with and supports federal laws requiring food labels to be truthful and non-misleading.  As Commissioner Hamburg noted, the examples cited are not indicative of the food industry as a whole.  Separately, GMA and its member companies support, and are working with, the FDA to enhance our ability to convey nutrition information clearly and consistently to consumers.”
KC's View:
The bottom line here is that clear and unambiguous food labels are good for business because they engender trust. We live in a world where trust in various systems - including the food chain - is eroding, little by little. It hurts everyone when some companies walk as close to the line as possible.

Now, I don’t even have a great deal of faith in the FDA...my skepticism level seems to get higher with every passing day. But I’m willing to be convinced...and I think this letter is a step in the right direction.

One other note. A lot of companies like to complain about over-regulation, and they have a point. But they lose the right to make that point if they don’t do the right thing voluntarily.