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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Strategic CSR - Nutrition Labels

The article in the url below reports the results of a competition organized by journalism students at the University of California, Berkeley to design more effective and informative food nutrition labels:

We asked food thinkers and design minds to come together and give advice on how they might rethink the food label and bring some insight into how design impacts choice,’’ said Lily Mihalik, co-creator of the project and a fellow in the News21 program, which is a journalism fellowship supported by the Carnegie and Knight Foundations. “There are a lot of things right with the current label, but at the same time people are confused. The question is whether a new nutrition facts label could help people make more educated decisions.

The winning designs are featured in the article and can be seen online at:

More designs can be found at:

The competition was intended to complement a review of nutrition labels currently being conducted by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and joins efforts by many other interested parties looking to influence the review’s outcome:

This fall, the Institute of Medicine is expected to release its own report on food packaging and labeling.

I thought the article was interesting because it shows progress on two fronts:
  1. A larger emphasis on emphasizing the nutritional content of foods—increasing awareness and, hopefully, more educated consumer decisions.
  2. Conveying complex product information in ways that are more easily comprehensible for consumers. The ideas generated for nutrition labels can inform the effort by Walmart and others ( to provide similarly complex information to consumers regarding product sustainability.

One last point; it is interesting that, in nutritional terms, the amount of processing involved in food production is as important, if not more so, than the ingredients themselves:

The focus on nutrients is probably inevitable, but it distracts from the issue of whether you’re getting real food or not,” he said. “The degree of processing matters more, very often, than the nutrients as expressed in a label. So how do we capture that?

Happy Thanksgiving (see you on Monday)!