A recent post on NPR’s “The Salt” blog has highlighted a sharp increase in the number of food labels designed to signal a product’s nutritional content and environmental status, raising questions about whether “the proliferation of ‘pick me!’ logos has become somewhat overwhelming.” According to the October 29, 2012, post, the International Ecolabel Index has counted 432 “green” marks “administered by governments, nongovernmental organizations and industry alliances” without even tracking those labels addressing nutrition or humane handling practices. “The Index’s Anastasia O’Rourke says this sea of stylized leaves and bean sprouts is confusing not only to individual consumers but to major purchasers like universities trying hard to do the right thing,” reports “The Salt,” which notes that some entities like the European Commission, United Nations and International Organization for Standardization have already embarked on efforts to standardize “the whole labeling game.”

Meanwhile, some countries like Denmark have started moving toward their own systems with an eye toward weeding out “some of the labels (to the extent that’s legally possible).” As one European Commission spokesperson purportedly explained, “The tug of war between informing consumers and making them want to bury their heads in the sand is nothing new… Before, it was a discussion about whether the letters on labels should be 1-millimeter tall or less. There’s always a trade-off. It’s a constant discussion.”