Designing a Better Food Label
By TARA PARKER-POPE
A project at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Journalism has taken on the task of designing a better food label, asking for ideas to replace the current black and white Nutrition Facts label that appears on every food package. Although the designs aren’t part of the official effort to redesign food packages, the Berkeley project has generated dozens of new ideas that are likely to be considered by the United States Food and Drug Administration, which is in the process of revising the existing food label. This fall, the Institute of Medicine is expected to release its own report on food packaging and labeling.
“We asked food thinkers and design minds to come together and give advice on how they might rethink the food label and bring some insight into how design impacts choice,’’ said Lily Mihalik, co-creator of the project and a fellow in the News21 program, which is a journalism fellowship supported by the Carnegie and Knight Foundations. “There are a lot of things right with the current label, but at the same time people are confused. The question is whether a new nutrition facts label could help people make more educated decisions.’’
The winning entry, from a San Francisco visual designer, Renee Walker, uses colorful boxes to depict the relative proportion of ingredients in a product. (Click on the photo to see four different examples of the label.)
“Walker’s design is dramatic, intriguing and holds great promise,’’ said Mr. Pollan. “I liked being able to see the visual breakdown of foods, although I wonder how her design would work with more complicated products, like Lucky Charms, say, or a PowerBar. Even so, it’s a step in the right direction. What I’d like to see next is some sort of color coding for the food groups and some attempt to show the degree of processing of various foods. Eating doesn’t have to be complicated; figuring out what’s in your food shouldn’t be
The articles is about new designs for the food label. Some graphic design students are working on for a class project. Who are their consultants? An author and a designer, not anyone involved in working with the public on nutrition.
Maybe RDs aren't seen as the experts.