The truth is that most federal labeling schemes are flawed at best, and often involve conflicts and compromises that rob meaning from the label….
In fact, there’s growing evidence that more food businesses are giving consumers exactly the information they want.
This spring, Whole Foods announced it would require its suppliers to label all GMO foods. Wonderful—even if the company did so after supporting Prop 37.
Just this week, national burrito chain Chipotle, which also supported Prop 37, realized like Whole Foods that it can act without being forced to do so by the government and began labeling all GMO ingredients.
This flood of voluntary information is not limited to the area GMO foods. Even as the FDA drags its heels on issuing regulations for restaurant menu labeling, big companies are filling that void thanks to consumer demand.
Panera Bread began posting calorie information in all its stores voluntarily more than three years ago. McDonald’s followed suit last year.
And this week, Starbucks announced it would start providing calorie information for all its products starting next week….
Private certification and attendant labeling has the potential to avoid nasty governmental disputes and lobbying that delay issuance of labels and water down the meaning of those labels once they’re issued. Private solutions can provide consumers with the specific information they care about most at the point of purchase.
The federal government could never do so much. And so it should begin right now to do much less when it comes to mandating what must appear on food labels.