Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Labels - Use the Power for Good

Last month we learned about food labeling in the UK. Their simple system of red, yellow and green helps consumer make better choices about the food they buy (green is good!). These are good labels as contrasted to the confusing and complicated labels on US food stuffs. Not to mention the questionable "health" claim labels that now adorn many package fronts on grocery store shelves.

Today, in "The Decision Tree" by Thomas Goetz, I read about a proposal pending at the FDA to add a simple label onto prescription medications. Thomas shares the concept of the Drug Facts Box created by Lisa Schwartz, Steve Woloshin and Gilbert Welch which would require clear, factual labels on all medications in the US. Study results show consumers with access to the Drug Facts Box have a greater ability to understand drug risks. These labels would also be good labels.

All too often, in our food and drug system special interests win out over the most simple and clear ways to help consumers make better choices for themselves and their families. Did you know a box can say "Zero Trans Fat" even if the product inside has less than 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving? Last time I was in school less than 1/2 a gram was still greater than zero. How does this happen?

Personally, I think we should put a label on the FDA which says "Warning: Following This Advice Could be Potentially Harmful to Your Health."

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