Calling for the food industry to put voluntary nutrition labeling initiatives on hold, Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Childhood Obesity, has co-authored an opinion piece about front-ofpackage nutrition labeling in The New England Journal of Medicine. Among other matters, the article recommends that industry leaders await an Institute of Medicine report with nutrition labeling recommendations due for release this fall.
Brownell suggests that the nutrition keys system under development by the industry may confuse consumers by “including so many symbols” and allowing companies the discretion to change the nutrients listed. According to the article, “The most notable deficiency of the industry system is its lack of a science-based, easily understood way to show consumers whether foods have a high, medium, or low amount of a particular nutrient.” Brownell contends that the traffic-light system used in Great Britain is much clearer. See NEJM, June 23, 2011.
In a related development, National Public Radio recently included a segment on its “Morning Edition” program about the government’s proposal to reduce the amount of “junk food” advertising to which children are exposed. The program focused on whether the proposed guidelines should include teens or simply focus on children younger than 12. Briefly mentioned were new methods of advertising by means of social media, such as cell phone messages and online games, of which teens are “heavy consumers.” Reporter Yuki Noguchi noted that the Interagency Working Group, comprising the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control, seeks comments on the proposal by July 14, 2011. See NPR, June 22, 2011.