Today's promoters of labeling laws, from GMO to country of origin to ingredients always fall back on "the right to know" argument. Modern labeling laws developed primarily as a result of historic snake oil salesman, iconic in our culture for overpromising, under-delivering, and whipping the gullible into a buying frenzy.
As too often happens, public discontent with labels playing fast and loose with the truth sought a remedy through governmental intervention. This brought about label regulations and lots of bureaucratic oversight, supposedly to protect us all from labeling improprieties.
The question I ask today is this: has any of this gotten us any further toward truth?
You can import beef from Paraguay but as long as it's boxed in the U.S., a "USA Product" designation goes on the label. And today we see the FDA approving a whole list of artificial and contrived fiber for candies so these can compete with fresh fruit as a health food.
This week, the new list includes polydextrose, resistant maltodextrin and mixed plant cell walls. Previously approved fiber concoctions are cellulose, guar gum, and psyllium husk. This mechanical view toward nutrition breaks out component parts, slaps them on a label, and suddenly we have brownies looking more healthy than a fresh peach or an apple.
You could not create a more conspiratorially dishonest presentation about healthy food to consumers, and yet this is exactly what labeling laws do. Duplicitous people swallow things, whether it be snake oil or FDA ingredient labels. And when you see the slick wording of these label languages, you realize that nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing--may I say it one more time?--nothing coming out of the federal food bureaucracy actually represents the truth.
This is why I take a position against ALL labeling laws. ALL of them. They lull people into thinking some expert has their back, into thinking the label actually gives an accurate portrayal of things. Better to let buyer beware drive consumer incredulity that creates responsible sleuthing for truth.
Have you ever trusted a label and then later found it to be spurious?