It looks like food labeling isn’t just confusing here in the U.S. I just came across an article out of France proposing a new labeling system to help consumers in that country make healthier food choices in the grocery store.
The proposed system would use colors, graphics, or symbols to rank foods according to things like calories, simple sugars, saturated fats, sodium, fiber, protein, and what percentage of fruits or vegetables are contained in the food.
You can think of it as a “food profiling” campaign.
The idea is to make it easier for consumers to make informed choices. Particularly those who aren’t savvy when it comes to recognizing the difference between a healthy vs. unhealthy food.
But…a word to the wise here.
What constitutes a “healthy” food according to mainstream/government agencies isn’t always what is ACTUALLY most healthy, based on scientific evidence. So I’ve always felt that color-coding foods presents a false sense of security for consumers.
And this new study (which was published in the journal Nutrients), just reinforced my belief. The foods that were profiled were things like pizza, yogurt, breakfast cereals, potato chips, and crackers.
Not a truly healthy option in the bunch. And yet, with the right mix of colors and graphics on the label, consumers could easily be fooled into believing they’re making a good choice.
Here’s a general rule of thumb: If the package is too confusing to understand, put it back.
Better yet, avoid pre-packaged foods altogether.
It’s always a good idea to shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where you can generally find whole, real foods like produce, meats, eggs, and fresh fish.
Because, as I’ve said before, the healthiest foods don’t need labels.
“Objective Understanding of Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels among Nutritionally At-Risk Individuals.” Nutrients 2015 http://mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/8/5325/htm