GMA: Health Labels 'Confusing' for Consumers

In performing its duty to help save us from ourselves, ABC often turns to its favorite kill-joy food police, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And they did it again on Oct. 21, when “Good Morning America’s” Lisa Stark lamented with CSPI’s executive director, Michael Jacobson about the conniving designs of the food industry to lure unsuspecting consumers into its artery-clogging, diabetes–ridden death trap.

What would that death trap be? Well, it depends on what day you tune in. It could be anything from drug-like frappuccinos to “killer” donuts to conscienceless fried chicken to unnatural soda pop to “Heart Attack Entrees with Side Orders of Stroke.” (And don’t forget some of the absolute riskiest: leafy greens, eggs, tuna, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries.) This time, though CSPI decided to attack more broadly by fighting against food labels.

These health labels are designed by “grocery stores, scientists, or manufacturers themselves to steer health conscious shoppers to supposedly nutritious products,” warned Stark.

“We have these different conflicting systems,” said Jacobson, “and some of them are flawed – that not so healthy foods get the symbol.”

Jacobson gave Froot Loops as an example, saying, “When it has 40 percent sugar – you know, can you picture half the box with grain and half the box with sugar – that’s not such a smart choice.”

He also gave Kraft’s Strawberry Bagel-fuls as an example of an undeserving food honored with a “Smart Choice label.” Stark explained that the bagels are “stuffed with cream cheese and strawberry puree, sweetened with sugar and colored with red dye 40.”

Gasp! Where did she find such classified information?! Oh wait, by reading the list of ingredients on the package, something that’s required on any processed food.

But what about that 40 percent sugar content in those colorfully deceitful cereal boxes? Where can you find that? Oh yes, the nutrition label – also mandatory on every food product.

But apparently shoppers are too dense to turn to the side of the box for that information, so the FDA is “cracking down,” saying that these health labels are “confusing” to consumers. “Good Morning America” read a portion of an FDA statement that warned food companies it is “analyzing … [labels] … that appear to be misleading.”

And the solution? Develop “one simple label that everyone would have to use” – a so-called “nutritional gold standard.” And of course, CSPI, which once damned polyunsaturated fats in favor of the now universally reviled trans fats, applauds the action. ABC clearly does too. Out of the 2 minute, 10 second segment, it gave only 8 seconds to the manufacturers to defend their labeling. That means that the idea of government regulation, which was presented positively, was given more than fifteen times more attention.