Thursday, August 27, 2015

Food Purchases and a Right to Know

Some while back, I listened to an interview of Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, on the Diane Rhem Show. During the conversation, he said something about consumers having a right to full information when they were making a purchasing decision, whether that was an appliance, house or a loan. I made a note to myself to go back and find the transcript when time allowed, because what he was saying also made sense as an argument for why we should disclose information about the foods we purchase, even if  - or especially if - they are completely prepared by a third party. I do not focus on vaguely defined terms like All Natural or Organic, and though I don't think a product with GMO (genetically modified organisms) is bad simply because it contains GMOs, I do concede to my friends who insist the products be labeled as such.

Instead, my labeling interests are about ingredients (and their amounts) and caloric content - at the very least calorie amounts, because that seems to be the best place to start with regard to weight control. I did find the recording and transcript of the interview, you can view both here, and I believe it is this excerpt that caught my attention back in July.
  • For consumers, the ability to understand more clearly what the costs and risks are that they face as they make choices, I have great confidence in consumers' ability to make decisions for themselves. Nobody can stand in their shoes and understand their circumstances as well as they do themselves. But at the same time, there are things they need to know about what the choices really are and whether the choice that's being presented to them is the deal that they will actually be able to live with next year or the years after or whether it will have changed in ways that are not clear to them in the fine print.These are all ways in which consumers, if they have their eyes open and if they can clearly see the futures, will make pretty good choices for themselves. But if the future is obscured, if they're being tricked and if there's deceptive marketing, as was often the case, then they will make bad decisions and they'll regret them and none of us wants to see that and consumers most of all. 

  • A lot of what Mr. Cordray discusses has to do with loans - its a great interview regarding financial protection and regulation. I encourage you to listen.

    But if you think about all the decisions we make regarding food - every day - the same message applies. Do we know what will happen to our future selves if we eat, for example, meals with very high calorie, sugar or salt content? And if we do know what will happen - for example, that we might gain weight or our blood pressure become dangerously high - shouldn't we be able to make an informed choice? A choice made by easily identifying the foods and beverages that are high or low in those things? It is our future 1) to understand and 2) to protect.

    Full disclosure is a purchasers legal right.

    No comments: