The battle for the labels on our food packages continues. In the face of the Grocery Manufacturers of America's confusing Facts Up Front labels, the Institute of Medicine has proposed, at the behest of Congress, a far simpler "Energy-star" like labeling system.
Instead of using complicated numbers the proposed labels would have one-to-three stars (or check marks or some other icon), each one indicating that the food came below a threshold amount of sodium, sugar or saturated and trans fat (which are most commonly associated with things like obesity, diabetes and heart disease). Foods with too-high levels of any one of those components would get no stars.
The report is only a recommendation (which the FDA and USDA can now choose to pick up) but it has already gotten detractors at the GMA. Yesterday it put out a statement that it has "concerns about the untested, interpretive approach suggested by the IOM committee" and that "consumers have said repeatedly that they want to make their own judgments, rather than have government tell them what they should and should not eat."
The charm of the IOM's proposal though, is that it requires you to know nothing about nutrition to get the gist. Consumers instinctively know that some stars are better than no stars, y'know?