Dang Labels!

From time to time, I am a disgruntled consumer who needs to vent. Consumer protection laws, like so many others, should do what they were designed to do: among other things, insure we receive accurate information about the products we use. Then again, that assumes the people who write our laws have something between their ears, or care more about their constituents than the corporations who fund their campaigns. I won’t go into that.

I just opened a bottle of sodium chloride tablets to prepare saline solution for washing the chemicals from my contact lenses—far cheaper to make than to buy. The expiration date on the bottle says October 2011. Are you awake when you’re reading this? I said, the expiration date. This is ridiculous. Salt doesn’t expire. In two years or two hundred, two millennia or two geologic epochs, salt will still be salt. It doesn’t decay. It doesn’t change. In fact, this is why salt is used to preserve things. Bacteria or fungi won’t grow in it and it is damn near eternal.

Seeing this, I went to the kitchen cabinet and reached for the table salt. To my relief, the sea salt I use has no such marking. At first blush, it would appear those watching our foods have more between their ears than those watching Big Pharma. No such luck.

One can in my cupboard irks me even more. I don’t want it removed from the stores. I use it somewhat regularly, but I would like it labeled accurately. This product is the spray-on oil you apply to your skillet so food won’t stick. I’m sure you know it. What irks me is how a product that is 100% fat can say it contains 0% fat as its label does. The reason is this: in the United States, any product whose suggested minimum serving contains less than one gram of fat can be labeled fat-free. Under “Nutrition Facts,” it clearly says a 1/3 second spray, the suggested serving, contains .27 grams. Later on it says that a one second spray (.81 g) covers a ten-inch skillet. Now I don’t know about you, but I find one second, let alone one-third, an awfully restrictive criterion, especially when the suggested serving will cover the 3” skillet we all love to use. Further, a quarter of a second longer than what is required for ten inches and you move into full-fat land. Clearly, this song and dance is to woo the low fat market, but give me a break! Salt doesn’t expire and every oil is pure fat.

I know I’m being a kvetch, so you can bag this post and move on to something more compelling. I just wish the powers-that-be weren’t such idiots, or didn’t treat us as if we were.



10 responses to “Dang Labels!

  1. Raymond, I agree with you. Sometimes I wonder about all the ridiculous labeling in the name of the consumer — for our own good. We become complacent to it , but every once in awhile, I get on a rant about something too.

    Good post,

    • I’ll side with too much, rather than too little. I don’t trust the big boys, especially Monsanto and GMO corn.

      Thanks, Eden.

  2. Agreed. Food companies and even the FDA do not put accuracy and common sense in the forefront of communications. Sometimes it’s just best to go as natural and healthy as possible. Growing your own food or taking advantage of the local farmer’s markets is one way. I like to try and follow the common sense of Michael Pollan as much as I can. His three simple rules for eating are:

    • Eat Food
    • Not Too Much
    • Mostly Plants

    That makes it easy! More of him talking about it. https://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=16801

  3. When a bag of peanuts has a warning label of “Warning: Contains peanuts” you know we’re in trouble.

  4. I needed a good laugh today, and thinking of salt with an expiration date did it. Thank you, Raymond! And if there are ingredients I can’t say on a label, I don’t eat it. Now that we actually have some sunshine in Seattle, I’m hoping for fresh veggies from our garden soon.

    • raymondbolton

      I’m in Portland today, heading home tomorrow. While we have had bouts of sun, I managed to time it so I miss five consecutive warm, blue sky days. Oh, well.

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