What the New Look Food Labels Lack: Graphical Integrity Nutrition Keys: Grocery Manufacturers Roll Out New Front-of-the-Package Labels

Posted by Peter Smith

nutrition-keysThat's what the new labels the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute want to slap on the front of store-brand boxes of cereal, crackers, and ice cream. You'll start seeing the new labels in the next couple of months, but maybe not for long. The New York Times reports:

The industry move was widely seen as an attempt to influence the [Food and Drug Administration's] continuing effort to establish voluntary guidelines for front-of-package labeling. Once those guidelines are issued, perhaps this year, the industry could come under pressure to change its packaging again.

Both Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the nutritionist Marion Nestle offered stinging critiques, suggesting that this was just another attempt by manufacturers to keep pushing junk food.

Is this a case of junk design too? The little black mounds indicating 12, 14, 15, and 25 percent all use the same amount of black ink. Does that have graphical integrity? Is 500 a good number for potassium? Moreover, what the new icons really lack is a clear signal about whether, say, 25 percent of the daily value of saturated fat a good thing or a bad thing. Which may be a case when colors could help send a clearer message. Just look at these labels from the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency.


The choice seems pretty clear. It's time for a redesign. Now, any guesses as to which foods these labels belong to?

Top image via GMA; bottom image via FSA