Warning Labels

Another Friday, some more Foodie Friday Fun! This week our topic comes from right here in NYC, where the Board Of Health has stirred up the restaurants again. What they did was to pass a new rule requiring major restaurant chains to label foods that are particularly high in sodium. The National Restaurant Association is suing them in response, claiming that the Board “overstepped its authority with an arbitrary and capricious mandate” in a statement to Eater.

Warning label on a cigarette box, which booste...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This got me to thinking about warning labels. Obviously, this example is only one of many products that contain warnings – cigarettes being the most obvious. There are the less obvious warning labels – “past investment results are not an indicator of future returns.” for example.

There are also a number of products which, in my opinion, should also contain warning labels – things high in sugar, for example. But there is a broader point that I’d like us to think about.

Food products list ingredients – they have to. They also list what percentage of one’s daily intake of sugar, carbs, fat, salt – whatever – the product supplies. But there is no context. Nothing says if you consistently exceed the recommended sugar intake you are at risk for diabetes, and obviously there is an epidemic of it in this country. Is the ingredient list a warning label?

Less obvious are products the don’t warrant warnings on the surface but probably ought to have one. “This product is badly made and will fall apart after 5 uses.” “This fabric will shrink 3 sizes after the first wash.” Or how about “this garment was made using slave labor in unsafe working conditions” for an eye opener?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that maybe we should ask ourselves if our product ought to have a warning label even if it’s the less obvious kind.  If it probably should, are we not doing the customer a disservice by foregoing its use?  I’m not talking about legal liability; I’m talking about doing what’s right.  Moreover, shouldn’t we be thinking about changing the product in such a way to make it “safer” as best we can so the label isn’t required?

Food for thought!

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