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Former agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack: Non-GMO, gluten-free labels fan consumer fears

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Editor’s note: Tom Vilsack is the former US Secretary of Agriculture and Governor of Iowa, and currently serves as CEO and President of the US Dairy Export Council

For the food industry, 2017 was the year of the label. Whether ‘non-GMO’ or ‘no high fructose corn syrup’, ‘no added hormones’ or ‘gluten-free,’ consumers are increasingly demanding more information about what’s in their food.

On its face, it makes sense. If consumers say they want transparency, tell them exactly what is in your product. That is simply supplying a certain demand.

But the marketing strategy in response to this consumer demand has gone beyond articulating what is in a product, to labeling what is NOT in the food. … So-called “absence claims” labels – those that arbitrarily tell a consumer what isn’t in a product, rather than what is – represent an emerging labeling trend that is harmful both to the consumers who purchase the products and the industry that supplies them.

For example, Hunt’s put a “non-GMO” label on its canned crushed tomatoes a few years ago – despite the fact that at the time there was no such thing as a GMO tomato on the market. There still isn’t today, yet the label remains. Some dairy companies are using the “non-GMO” label on their milk, despite the fact that all milk is naturally GMO-free, regardless of the type of feed given to the cows that produce it.

Read full, original post: Stop the Food Label Fear-Mongering

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