The Guardian: Think You’re Too Smart to Be Taken in by Silly Food Labels? Think Again

By Arwa Mahdawi –

I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. Love is all around me. But it shouldn’t be in granola bowls. So says the US Food and Drug Administration, anyway – albeit slightly more drily. The FDA recently warned a Massachusetts-based bakery that it can’t list “love” as an ingredient in its granola, sternly explaining that love isn’t a recognised ingredient, “and is considered to be intervening material”. Which is FDA-speak for extraneous information liable to distract consumers from a product’s legitimate ingredient list, thus tricking them into eating suboptimal granola for breakfast. I, for one, hate it when that happens.

It should be noted that the FDA didn’t censure a small business just because of a little lighthearted labelling. No, it seems there was so much love in the Nashoba Brook Bakery that things had started to get pretty filthy in the kitchen. The FDA’s warning letter lists numerous infractions, including bugs on the brioche and a “one-inch-long crawling insect” by the focaccia.

Nevertheless, the consumer watchdog does seem to have been rather heavy-handed in its condemnation; after all, one person’s crawling insect is another person’s extra protein. And objections to listing love as an ingredient are rather ridiculous when you consider the general state of food labelling, which is already extremely dubious and incredibly confusing. While you don’t need to be a genius to realise you can’t actually bottle love and bake it into granola, assessing the accuracy and importance of some of the more scientific-sounding food labels today can be very difficult.

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