The Ramblings of Annie Abalam

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Even More Labels

on February 11, 2012

Earlier this week, I read the article Dr. Epstein posted, and conveniently also found a blog post on Food Politics addressing the same topic: Walmart’s new front-of-package “buy me” logo.  What these articles discuss is Walmart’s new labeling initiative, the bright green, “Great For You” label.  Walmart officials state that they have consulted many knowledgeable sources when determining whether a product will make the cut.  According to the blog post, over 80% of Great Value products did not make it onto the list of items that will be receiving the enticing label.

Labels and marketing have always been one of my greateest interests since diving into the treacherous world of America’s industrial food system.  The question I always ask myself is: is this label deceitful, or does it actually aim to educate the consumer? Walmart’s labeling campaign appears promising, as they have exercised some discretion when giving products this label.  As for the foods that do not garner the coveted “Great For You” label, these products might be viewed as possessing a “red light,” making consumers less likely to purchase them.  Marion Nestle cites a study whose findings revealed that people respond to traffic light signals when purchasing food.  This labeling program is just that.  Still, I find myself wary of Walmart’s plans.  I cannot help but assume that as a major corporation, they care about making money, not about the welfare of their consumers.  Another reason that Walmart’s campaign causes me anxiety is that Walmart’s customers are people who are sometimes not highly educated (and even people who have attended college often do not know where their food comes from) and would be painfully susceptible to misleading labels.  In no way am I suggesting that Walmart consumers are unintelligent – I am merely positing the idea that they might not be as well versed on what is healthy and what is not as a food fanatic… like myself.  All that I can say is that I hope that this campaign is remotely as wholesome as it appears to be at face value.  If so, I think it could greatly benefit the large population that purchases food from Walmart.

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