The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., a natural and organic products company providing consumers with A Healthy Way of Life(TM), announced its continued commitment to a Back-to-Basics Approach to Product Labeling and for all consumer packaged goods companies to adopt truth-in-labeling standards.
"As the natural and organic leader in consumer packaged goods, Hain Celestial's mission statement is built around 'A Healthy Way of Life' with healthy and nutritional sustainable food choices.’Nutrition Keys' on-pack information may disguise the true character of a product in order to induce purchase and influence consumers' selections," stated Irwin D. Simon, president and chief executive officer of Hain Celestial in a prepared statement. "For example, under 'Nutrition Keys', a snack product consisting of nothing more than refined sugar, artificial flavor, artificial color, a small amount of salt, and a small amount of Vitamin C could appear to be a vitamin-fortified, low-calorie, no-fat, low-salt, no-trans-fat product, implying that it is 'good-for-you' when it is actually a product of non-nutritive calories that could contribute to obesity. This seems similar to the 'Smart Choices' program introduced last year by an overlapping group of companies, which consumers rejected after seeing it applied to products that clearly weren't 'smart'," Irwin Simon continued. "We have a responsibility to educate consumers as to how to make good choices for themselves and their families, for both meal and snacking occasions. We support continued research and discussion on this important issue."
In a recent Perspective column in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D. of Yale University and Jeffrey P. Koplan, M.D., M.P.H. of Emory University, criticized the content and timing of the Nutrition Keys labeling system introduced earlier this year. The doctors cite The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who have commissioned the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene an expert committee and issue recommendations for front-of-package labeling. A final report is expected in the fall. Additionally, the Nutrition Keys highlights information that may contribute to consumer confusion by implying healthful benefits for foods, beverages and snacks with low nutritional value.
Hain Celestial supports the conclusions published by Doctors Brownell and Koplan in the NEJM stating that the industry should wait for the IOM report or risk being perceived as untrustworthy and inviting further government intervention.