Friday, May 7, 2010

FDA requests comments for front-of-packaging labels

The FDA is requesting comments for potentially new front-of-packaging food labels. Their request can be found here.

You can leave a comment for the FDA here.

My comment to the FDA:

It has become common knowledge that nutrition and health includes not just the contents of the food itself, but the impact of the production of that food on the environment in which we breathe, drink, recreate and live. Therefore, nutritional labeling should not only reference the material contained in package, but it should also indicate the major environmental impacts of producing that food.

Such a indication could be implemented graphically, with labels for different ecosystems impacted, in which ways, and the relative magnitude of those impacts. This would include not just the production, but also transportation, marketing and other activities associated with the life-cycle of the food item.

When such information is made accessible to the public, citizens will be able to make informed choices on how they impact their environment; such a choice is impossible at the moment without available information.

The impacts of the ability for the public to make such choices will be profound, as low-carbon-emission foods, for example, would be incentivized over high-carbon-emission foods. Local food would likely be incentivized, but not in all cases. Overall, environmentally-friendly practices would be incentivized.

The hurdle of creating the capacity to determine such impacts would be overcome with an investment on the part of the government into a life-cycle analysis software system which would be available for all producers to use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice note Al. I'd be ok if they did this, as long as the data used is based on facts that are undisputedly verifiable, and not alarmist claims...e.g., the claim that cows farting is a top climate change contributor - uh thankfully that has been dispelled. That it takes xyz energy/grain to create a pound of beef...that is more quantifiable/auditable (though, a fart star rating on meat packaging would be pretty funny).