So a product on a store shelf lists flour as an ingredient, but not "wheat. Or it lists butter, but not "milk."
What's the big deal? It could mean life or death for people, especially children, who suffer from food allergies and are trained at a very young age how to carefully examine product labels.
The problem is that many food manufacturers are cross contaminating or just not paying attention to what exactly is going into the foods they label.
The Chicago Tribune is on this story, doing its own investigation of food labels and holding these companies accountable.
Some of this could seem a little nuanced. How specific do the labels really need to be?
Well...I'm a firm believer in truth in advertising. So companies that stick on labels specifically targeting those who are allergic ought to really know what's in the mix.
And the others. If you're manufacturing food, you ought to know the ingredients. And if you know the ingredients, you ought to be able to accurately reflect those on the labels.
How hard is this? What worries me is that it's this hard because our food manufacturers don't really know the ingredients they're working with. If they don't know...how are we as consumers supposed to trust?
I suppose this is another reason to buy local (from known and trusted suppliers/farmers) and try to avoid processed food.
We're working on it, but not there yet.
The food labeling story this weekend is just the latest in the Trib's aggressive Kids at Risk series, exploring hidden hazards in toys, food, car seats, cribs, etc.
Without the Tribune and other local newspapers with the investigative know how, would we ever examine these issues?
Even in these investigations, the Trib can point to actual harm, sometimes death, caused by poor labeling or lax oversight. I'd argue that if journalists weren't shining a light, we wouldn't think to question these matters unless the death toll forces action.