Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lots of your tax dollars, not even remotely hard at work.

Talk about badvertising.

I blogged once before about the uselessness of the new %DV campaign.

That's the campaign that tells Canadians to look at the percent daily values of foods' nutrition fact panels to choose more of the ones they want and less of the ones they don't. Basically it promotes blind nutritionism and explicitly teaches Canadians not to care about actual foods, but rather about useless things like what percentage of daily vitamin A they have in them.

Well guess what? Now Health Canada's spending our hard earned money by buying advertising space in magazines and food packaging to spread this completely unhelpful, and potentially even harmful means of evaluating foods.

And why?

Well presumably Health Canada must think their current nutrition fact panels are confusing to Canadians.

So here's a thought. Health Canada, putting aside the utility of your educational messaging, if you think that our nutrition fact panels are so confusing that you need to mount a tax-payer funded campaign to help people understand how to use them, don't you think that perhaps instead it might be smarter to fix the food labels themselves and then not spend our hard earned money?

Just sayin'.

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  1. Stephanie8:18 am

    Your timing is impecable. This morning while eating my cereal I noticed the entire back of the box was a Health Canada advert for %DV explanation which must have been written at a grade 2 level. Seriously, is this what we're paying for?

  2. My friend and I were looking at labels in her pantry just the other day. She saw the %DV number by the fat content and thought that was the amount of fat in the food, not the %DV. Very unhelpful indeed.

  3. I love the suggested label for foods...taking the mystery out of these labels and writing them for the users would be extremely helpful for those of us who actually read them. Thanks Yoni..

  4. Sigh. CSPI huh? I will never understand your blind support of this organization. This is the same organization that bullied food industry into switching to TRANS FAT laden shortening in the '80's and '90's as a replacement for lard (but won’t admit that mistake now) and now continues to constantly blame heart disease on SATURATED FAT even though scientific evidence clearly no longer supports that misguided theory. It is impossible to find an issue of Nutrition Action that does not demonize saturated fat (or all meat for that matter).

    Oh and in their "improved" nutrition panel they recommend ONLY listing added sugars and not natural sugars. WHY? Your body cannot tell the difference between natural and added sugars. Natural sugars are not different chemically from added sugars. Natural sugars are not healthier than added sugars. So what is there scientific reasoning? They have none...the just FEEL it is a good idea because all natural sugars must be great. So a cup of grape juice which, as you have pointed out many times, contains more sugar than an equal amount of coca cola, will NOT have to list sugars on its nutrition table because they are NATURAL. Please. That makes no sense and it is not responsible labelling.

    So do I think it would be smarter to spend my hard earned tax dollars on CSPI's nutrition panel? No, I don't.

  5. By my "blind support" JT do you mean like the post yesterday when I suggested CSPI doesn't do enough to call out a Food Guide that has outdated messaging on saturated fat and juice specifically?

    Oh, and if HC decided to change labels, the costs we be born by food manufacturers, not tax dollars.

  6. Sorry, that should read 2 days ago, not yesterday.

  7. That was more a criticism of the food guide than of CSPI. You rarely criticize CSPI's content. CSPI's "improved" nutrition panel is not evidence-based, with added sugars as a clear example (as well as saturated fat in scary red font). It needs to be critically evaluated before it is just thrown out there as a great alternative to our current nutrition panel.

  8. Anonymous2:47 pm

    If it got to be labeled, maybe we should not be eating it. Eat real foods.

  9. When I started on the road to better nutrition, as a young 20-something just learning that there were more food groups in the world than fried, fruit( though we fry our pies here, too), corn (bread, grits,etc), barbecue, and dairy (American Southern), I did use %DVs, not on packaging, but in cook-books. For a recipe to have double digits on A, C, B complex, more than 3 g fiber, etc., it had to contain a lot of veggies and whole grains. That was a helpful way to start.
    Why not pay for a program to teach people to read healthy recipes and cook healthy foods? To avoid shiny packaging and pretty boxes with big-print claims? Why not teach people to read ingredients, and not to eat anything you can't pronounce or a coloring defined by a number? I think people from both ends of the carb/fat spectrum could agree to that.

  10. I also noted that this campaign has been rolled in partnership with McDonalds... it is on the trayliners at the Kingston locations...

    facepalm if I ever heard of one!


  11. Despite an extremely high lack of faith in government wisdom as it pertains to nutrition - that would blow me away.

    If you or anyone else sees such a liner, please take a photo and email me!