Friday, November 6, 2015

Front of Pack Labels vs Labeling Laws

There is a difference in the requirements for vending operators when they post calorie counts for all items in their machines, starting December 2016, and what some candy, chips and pastry manufacturers are doing now - voluntarily.

According to the law, the font type, size and color have to be large enough and stand out enough to get the attention of the customer while the customer is deciding what to buy. I suppose if you go to the snack machine with nothing but Reese's peanut butter cups on your mind, you may not slow down to read calorie counts, but if you are browsing.....

The snack manufacturers, likely because they make their snacks for grocery and convenience stores too, have begun placing industry designed - industry criteria based - front of pack labels on their packages. On the face, this sounds really good. I love calorie disclosures as a general rule. And it looks like the manufacturers are giving counts for the full packages. 

From the pictures below, you can see some problems.

  1. The labels are too small
  2. The numbers do not stand out on the packages
  3. If the package is not placed in the spiral correctly (especially this happens with beverages) you can not see the label at all
  4. Sometimes the spiral actually covers the label
  5. Only some of the items have labels - how can you compare? 
  6. The labels are not in the same spot, so you can't really scan efficiently, and
  7. In this particular machine, the snacks with the most calories do not have labels (eg honey buns and tasty kake)

By the way, there doesn't seem to be any detectable pricing scheme - two items of equal calories or 'healthiness' can cost from $ .60 to $1.00. Or maybe there is, the chips or salty snacks in the machine below are 60 cents and the higher calorie items, the honey bun and pop tarts, are a dollar. Contrary to what we are told - the worse items cost more, not less.

Here the Cheetos and Oreos are labeled, possibly the pop tarts too

Notice the different label placements, upper right hand corner and lower right hand corner, and even the small side of a package

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