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Consumer Reports endorses the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021

Legislation aims to make grocery labels simpler, clearer, and more informative

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers will have an easier time making more informed and healthy choices about the packaged food they buy at the grocery store under a bill introduced in Congress, according to Consumer Reports.  The Food Label Modernization Act (H.R. 4917) would crack down on several types of misleading and confusing marketing claims on food labels, including labels that may give consumers the false impression that certain foods are more nutritious than they actually are.

“Food labels make numerous health claims that are more often hype instead of helpful,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports.  “Consumers should be able to rely on food labels so they can easily compare products and make informed choices. This bill will help make food labels simple, clear, and meaningful so we can all have more confidence that the food we’re buying is really healthy.”

The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-N.J.), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), would establish a single, standard, front-of-package nutrition labeling system for packaged foods to clearly distinguish between healthy and unhealthy nutrients. This system could include a stop-light, points, stars, or another common signaling system to scale foods according to their overall health value, as well as warning symbols for excessive amounts of saturated or trans fats, sodium, added sugars, or other nutrients associated with health concerns.

The bill also targets specific misleading marketing claims, such as labels improperly indicating a food is “healthy,” “natural,” or “whole grain.” It enhances disclosure for a variety of ingredients important to consumers’ health, and improves labeling for phosphorus, caffeine, and sesame.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537