The SuperFood Phenomenon

These days, food isn’t just food anymore; it’s also a tool to make you better, stronger and faster than before! Ok, maybe that’s just the Six Million Dollar Man but it sure seems that way sometimes.

Don’t just drink tap water, drink a lightly flavored, no calorie water that provides the same vitamins and minerals as a daily multi-vitamin. Don’t just have milk, have milk with extra calcium, extra protein and even Omega-3 Fatty Acids. It’s not just food, it’s SuperFood!

The food industry, food marketers and even the federal government all take part in this phenomenon. The latest step in this trend was unveiled by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association and the Food Marketing Institute earlier this year –the “Nutrition Keys” system. In the words of the industry associations, labeling food in this way will help consumers make “informed choices” to “promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Within the health and nutrition world, the Nutrition Keys system has sparked a passionate discusssion. Some see this as the food industry trying to regulate itself – pushing an alternative to a new labeling system that the Food and Drug Administration has designed to be more consumer friendly, which is set to debut this fall.

Many feel that if the industry is able to regulate itself without legislative oversight, the American public will get shortchanged in the end. Nonprofit advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the Nutrition Keys system could be confusing, and consumers are likely to ignore them than the FDA’s model. “It’s unfortunate the industry wouldn’t adopt a more effective system or simply wait until the Food and Drug Administration developed a system that would be as useful to consumers as possible,” the group said in a statement.

Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, said in a statement that the new labels are a “sign” that the government must continue its regulatory effort

“I see no reason the food industry could not have waited, except that the industry fears that government would suggest a system that reflects poorly on many of its products,” Brownell said.

What do you think of this debate? Let us know in the comments!

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