We'd like to file this under stories The Onion might as well have written. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday, a group of nutrition policy advocates called The Strategic Alliance released a report last week claiming that 84% of labels on packaged foods aimed at the mouths of children make substantially misleading claims.
Those Apple Jacks your Timmy crumbles across his sticky, ruddy face? Surprisingly, not only do they not, as the old commercial often reminded us, taste like apples, they also don't possess an apple's potentially significant cancer-fighting properties. Likewise, Kid Cuisine's All-Star Chicken Nuggets? Despite having an ingredient list as long as the front page of the L.A. Times, these meat paste morsels are in fact processed and only part of a balanced diet when followed with a colon cleanse and a week's worth of kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, and acai berries. We know, it's shocking.
You'd think parents would take the time to flip over packages to read the nutritional information panels on the back, but maybe they shouldn't have to. According to The Strategic Alliance and the study's sponsor, the Oakland-based non-profit The Prevention Institute, the F.D.A. should establish tougher regulations for front-of-the-package labeling–so parents don't need to do so much sleuthing. The Prevention Institute's executive director Larry Cohen had this to say:
“When corporations put a label on the front of the box calling something a smart choice, parents believe it – and why shouldn't they? You can't blame them for trusting what they see.”
Without letting the companies off the hook, you can, actually. We're living in a post-X-Files world. Trusting what you see died with Deep Throat. Especially when cholesterol is coming for your kids.