Mark Bittman Proposes a New Food Label Concept
20 Oct, 2012
Food industry advocate and journalist Mark Bittman wrote a compelling op-ed about food labels in last Sunday’s edition of The New York Times. The article titled “My Dream Food Label,” outlined what he thinks are the most important aspects a food label should contain.
Apart from labeling GMOs, many believe that current food labels don’t meet consumer needs. Too much information, combined with oft-confusing serving sizes, percent daily values, and loopholes such as trans fat content (a company can label a product 0 grams trans fat even if it has 0.5 g trans fats per serving—eat more than a serving and you’re consuming quite a bit).
Plus, the simple back-of-package location of the current food label can be easily overlooked by hurried shoppers.
The answer, Bittman argues, is to adopt the traffic light model (green means a great choice, yellow means eat sometimes, red means eat sparingly or never).
Multi-dimensional food scoring
Current traffic light models measure foods one-dimensionally. They are based solely on nutritional content. In collaboration with the design firm Werner Design Werks, Bittman conceptualized a front-of-package food label factoring in nutrition, welfare (of the workers who made the product, sustainability, carbon footprint, that sort of thing), and what he calls “foodness.”