As food manufacturers increasingly turn to fear-based food labeling to prop up profits and as consumers face more confusion in the grocery aisles, America’s dairy farmers launched “Peel Back the Label,” a new campaign to highlight what they view as a troublesome trend and to stress the need for truth and transparency in food marketing.
The campaign comes as almost 70% of consumers say they look to front-of-package claims when making food purchasing decisions and as food manufacturers increasingly utilize “free from” labels – e.g., ”no high-fructose corn syrup,” “GMO free” or “hormone free” – to play on consumers’ food safety fears and misconceptions.
Nowhere is this fear-based marketing more rampant than with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For example:
- Hunt’s added a “GMO-free” label to its canned tomatoes, even though there is no such thing as a genetically modified tomato currently on the market.
- Florida’s Natural added a Non-GMO Project certification to its orange juice labels despite the fact that there are no commercially grown genetically modified oranges.
- Dannon added a line of non-GMO yogurt, citing “sustainable agriculture, naturality and transparency” but is unable to point to any nutritional, environmental, health or other consumer benefits.
- TruMoo milk acknowledges that GMOs are safe on its website while at the same time launching an advertising campaign for its milk with the tagline “No GMOs, No Worries.”
- Himalania Rock Pink Salt added a Non-GMO Project certified label despite the fact that salt – a mineral – could never be a GMO in the first place because it has no genes to modify.
“America’s dairy farmers strongly support open, honest and transparent engagement with consumers. The deceptive labels and fear-based marketing increasingly used by some food manufacturers damages consumer trust and jeopardizes the safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years,” said Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “Consumers have a right to both truth and transparency in food labeling. We launched this campaign to help consumers peel back the label on deceptive food marketing in the name of profits.”
This trend towards deceptive “free from” labels is particularly concerning for the dairy industry. Last year, NMPF and other leading farm organizations publicly raised concerns regarding Dannon’s announcement of its plans to eliminate GMOs from its products, saying the company’s decision was “the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking.”
Through the Peel Back the Label website, the campaign will give consumers access to the tools they need to separate hype from fact as they work to make informed food decisions for their families. It also will include ways for consumers to tell their own stories about the negative impacts of deceptive labeling and share information with their social networks.
Learn more about the campaign at www.PeelBackTheLabel.org.