Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nutritional Food Labeling

I have been in the retail food industry for nearly all my adult life.  Over the years, I have seen a number of changes to the labeling requirements on food.  The labeling has become more and more complicated as the government has required more and more information to be included on the labels.

It used to be that the labels would show the total amount of fat in a serving.  Now you see total fat, saturated fat, and a few years ago, trans fat.  Same with carbohydrates.  Now you see total carbs, dietary fiber, and sugars.  You need to be a chemist to understand all the information on the label.

To be honest, I rarely look at the nutritional labeling.  About the only time that I ever do it is if I am actively trying to watch what i eat or am trying to lose weight.  Even then, I am primarily looking at calories and percentage of fat in a serving.

So I really don't need any new information on my food labels.  I especially don't need it for something as bogus as what the folks in Sweden are starting to see on their nutritional labels.  Sweden has begun requiring that the carbon impact of the product be included on the label so that consumers can make an informed choice on how their food products are impacting carbon emissions.  One such label reads "Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product."

The Swedish government has also issued new dietary guidelines for selecting food products.  For instance, they recommend that people choose carrots over items like tomatoes and cucumbers.  The reason being that tomatoes and cucumbers have to be grown in heated greenhouses causing higher emissions.  Being ornery, I would probably deliberately choose the higher carbon impact items.  I have to ask, how much info do you pay attention to, if any, on a label, and would the inclusion of carbon impact on a food label change how you eat?
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  1. What would I do? I would probably pick the high carbon footprint item, and I would eat it naked in my kitchen - hoping that no one would come in and arrest me for either offense. :)



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