Are The New Nutritional Labels Relevant?

Yesterday, the Obama administration and the FDA released recommendations for revamping the nutritional labels that are found on every packaged food item in the USA. Two major changes will offer more information to consumers that should steer then to healthier products. The first change is adjusting the serving size, mostly upward, so that it more accurately represents actual serving sizes. The second is adding more information about the nutritional content, like added sugar.


As a rule, the more information we have about processed food, the less likely we are to purchase unhealthy products. It becomes harder for manufacturers to include less-than-healthy ingredients, be they corn syrup or artificial preservatives.


But how relevant will these labels will even be a few years from now? Consider the following apps that help us make buying decisions:


Grades: why look at the label when an expert has already looked at it and given it a grade? The Fooducate app attempts to do just that. Scan an item and the app will show you its grade,based on a scientific algorithm driven by its nutrition facts and ingredient list. It also offers you healthier alternatives for some products. Result: you don’t even need to read the label. Taking this app further, let doctors and nutritional experts weigh in, and start suggesting better alternatives based on previous queries or tracked purchases. Also, maybe it’s time we stop relying on the manufacturers to give us the nutritional information they think we need and get third-party labs to find that information out for us. Let that information be presented alongside the manufacturer’s information and be part of the product’s grade.


Apple: no label required


Quantities: the Orange Chef app comes with a scale that helps you really know just how many calories you’re adding to your quiche. Its Prep Pad weighs your ingredients and the app looks up nutritional value of each one to give you the total value for a specific dish. It doesn’t rely on a predetermined serving size but bases your caloric count on what you actually serve.


Grocery Delivery: new services such as Amazon Fresh and Google Express will do your shopping for you. But why just shop when you can shop smartly? Perhaps in the future they can offer not just to deliver the food you’ve chosen but to deliver the best product in a category that you’ve chosen. Additionally, you can be assigned a personal nutritional expert that can help you chose not just better alternatives in a given category but better food choices in all. After all, why eat apple chips if you can eat a fresh apple?


With so much information at our fingertips, the only question is when the nutritional labels become irrelevant, not if.

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