In 1973 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) successfully pushed for laws requiring nutrition facts on packaged foods. Like the guy who peaked in high school and has been recounting the "big game" ever since, CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson has yet to match his coup de gras — but that has not stopped him from trying.
Current federal regulation ensures that food labels are standardized, so that — regardless of variations in packaging, slogans, illustrations, or pictures — consumers can compare products based on nutrient information in identical formats. CSPI’s campaign for this type of labeling rested on the assumption that more knowledge would encourage healthier choices.
But Jacobson now complains that consumers are confused by all the information he slapped on the back of the package and, as a result, shoppers only select purchases based on pictures and slogans. In today’s Chicago Tribune Jacobson outlines a proposal that would replace manufacturers’ graphics — not the "confusing" Nutrition Facts — "with a single program certified by the Food and Drug Administration … such as red/yellow/green lights."
While Jacobson campaigns for Cliffs Notes nutrition, his group is simultaneously fighting to push even more information on the same public allegedly baffled by the current material. CSPI’s Director of Nutrition Policy, Margo Wootan, bemoans the lack of nutrition information on restaurant menus. And the group is now calling for soda makers to add caffeine to the 14 mandatory nutrients already required on nutrition labels.