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A trend toward corporate honesty

In the interest of science, I bought and ate (but first studied and photographed) a dark chocolate Snickers bar the other day. The candy bar caught my eye in Gerald’s G & E Grocery, in Ocean View, Delaware. What stood out was a bright green shield-shape on the front (see photo) that announced unequivocally that the bar included 240 calories, or 12% of my daily intake of calories. That struck me as an almost-recklessly honest bit of package labeling. This is an interesting trend, and perhaps inevitable—food companies are likely to find honesty is best in a world where almost anyone can get almost any information.
David Kessler, former head of the US Food and Drug Administration, recently marveled at the Snickers Bar saying that it is: “extraordinarily well engineered,” as a compact confection of sugar, fat, and salt that dissolves richly in your mouth as you chew.{Link}. He didn’t really mean to compliment the makers of the Snickers bar.
I grew up on Snickers, and have always eaten them under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” principle, wherein I work to not scrutinize the nutrition labeling. Now the makers of Snickers (Masterfoods, a part of Mars Inc.) have made it no longer possible for me to ignore the truth. That’s real honesty, and good for them doing it.
What Snickers has done is part of a broad trend to greater attention to health and nutrition. More producers are labeling their products for nutrition, more accurately. They are responding to regulatory requirements but are also acting voluntarily. In looking into this I foundthat Mars has launched Mars Healthy Living (www.marshealthyliving.com) to educate consumers on nutrition, including for its products. It has designed its own, very-visible GDA (guideline daily amount) label for its products, and it certainly caught my eye. Their site says “All Mars Snack and food brands, including Skittles, M&Ms, Snickers and Uncle Ben’s will carry GDA labels by the end of 2010.”
What other big producers will follow? It will be interesting to see.
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