Monday, March 28, 2011

Labels Can Be Helpful

One topic we have discussed on this blog numerous times before is labels. Many of you have left comments that this or that label -- for example, in relation to political perspective or mental health diagnoses -- can be limiting. I certainly wouldn't argue with the notion that people (me definitely included) tend to identify with a particular label so much that we fail to see the real person the label seeks to define.

While labels in this vein probably should not be relied on so much, they do serve a useful and needed purpose in other areas of life. One I can think of right off the bat is food. Food labeling allows consumers to make better informed choices.

A recent article at the PRWatch website reports about one aspect in the push to require labels on the foods we consume.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is about to issue a new rule forcing movie theaters to disclose nutritional information for the prepared snacks they serve, including hot dogs, pretzels and popcorn, but the National Association of Theater Owners is lobbying FDA and congressional staffers to exempt theaters from the requirement. Theaters argue the rule is an unwarranted intrusion into their business, since people come to movie theaters to see movies, not to eat food. "It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie," says Gary Klein, general counsel for the theater owners' group.

The stakes are high for theaters. Sales of popcorn, sodas and snacks generate up to one third of their revenue. David Ownby, the chief financial officer of Regal Entertainment Group, the country's largest theater chain, recently disclosed at an investor presentation that a bucket of popcorn costs theaters just 15 or 20 cents to make, and sells for about six dollars. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found a large dry popcorn purchased at Regal had 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat. Adding butter adds 260 more calories.

The major theater chains already report nutritional information in California, where state law currently requires it, but theater owners are protesting being forced to disclose the information elsewhere, saying it should be voluntary, that people don't go to the movies that often and when they do go, they really don't care about the nutritional content of their snacks anyway.
I don't know about you, but I think ALL food -- particularly packaged or prepared food -- should be so labeled. Yes, it would cost more at the outset, but think of the money it would save in long-term health care costs. While not every person would pay any heed to such labels, I bet a lot of people would.

I certainly read food labels. Two of my big bugaboos are saturated and trans fat. If I'm looking at a product and I notice that there is ANY trans fat in the item, I don't purchase it. If it is high in saturated fat, I generally don't buy it either.

If the government mandated that chemical additives and GMOs were reflected on food labels, I can tell you that I would rarely, if ever, buy any product that had either.

What about you? Do you read labels?

Of course, the other outrageous tidbit in this article is the ratio between the actually cost of popcorn and the outrageous price they charge for it. It is tantamount to highway robbery!


  1. I read every food label. I think every food item should be labeled not only for nutritional content but also for country of origin.

    I also support true, honest labeling. A bottle of pop is one serving not 2 and a half. King size candy bars are most often eaten at one time yet many of them are labeled as 2 servings. Or cereal. Who really only eats 3/4 cup? I am sure some people do but most don't. Serving sizes need to actually reflect real life data. (like many fast food companies are now doing)

  2. Superb point! I agree that most of the serving sizes listed are laughable, at best.


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