Michelle Obama Sets $2 Billion on Fire … For the Children

 

File under “you spent your entire life working towards the presidency to do this?” From Politico:

The Obama administration will unveil the most sweeping update to nutrition labeling on food packages in more than two decades on Thursday — and Americans are in for a reality check about how many calories and how much sugar they are consuming.

What’s considered a serving size would get larger, the type used to display calories would get bolder and added sugars would have to be listed on roughly 700,000 consumer products — from cereal to energy drinks — in a proposal set to be released by the Food and Drug Administration, senior administration officials revealed in a call with reporters Wednesday.

Bolder fonts!? Larger serving sizes!? Consider your world rocked, America!

Of course, this is really about the children:

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” [Michelle] Obama says in a statement. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

A couple of things:

1. You can already “walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family.” Reading this statement, you’d think the food companies found a loophole in the regulations and had been printing all the nutritional data in Cyrillic. 

2. Am I the only one a little put off by having a policy shift explained to me by the First Lady’s office? No one elected you to anything. I have no more interest in your views on food labeling than I do on Sasha and Malia’s take on infrastructure spending (for the record, they’re both bad on Davis-Bacon).

This would be one thing if it was just annoyingly interventionist. It also happens to be pretty expensive:

Industry groups are already looking at a long list of food policy changes from the Obama administration, including a proposed trans fat ban, major new food safety regulations and forthcoming restaurant menu-labeling requirements. The FDA estimates the Nutrition Facts overhaul alone will cost the industry about $2 billion.

And what does $2 billion get you these days? The difference seen here (the current version is on the left, the proposed new version is on the right):

nutrition_label_current.jpg              

Once again, that’s $2 billion. With a ‘B.’

There are 25 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @RossC

    I can feel the health flowin’ all through me.  I lost about a half a pound just looking that the $2B price tag….no….wait a minute….I better go change.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    Useless. Where’s the percentage on the Daily Recommended Stupidity Allowance?

    Does anyone believe this will change behavior?

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @FrankSoto

    Words fail.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TheKingPrawn

    And when this changes no one’s eating habits the next logical step will be explaining to us knuckle-draggers what is and is not good for us. Perhaps they’ll start putting graphic images on boxes of Fruity Pebbles to scare the kids away. The rest of my thoughts on this are not CoC compliant, which means I should probably kill of this can of Mtn Dew and go have a smoke.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @AlbertArthur

    If I don’t pay attention to the information on the left, I won’t pay attention to the information on the right. This is a ridiculous waste of money.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @AlbertArthur

    The only time I ever look at these things is when I’m buying a protein bar, by the way. 

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @MSJL

    These are the indulgences of living in a wealthy country.

    In order to disclose all payments to doctors by healthcare suppliers and group purchasing organizations, these entities and health care providers will cough up $240 million to implement and $180 million per year to maintain (per CMS’ estimates).  If you need that data in a painfully complex federal data base (which may require its own dispute resolution mechanism to sort out incorrectly submitted data), then stop snivelling about the rising cost of health care.

    Anyone want to guess at the cost for manufactures to trace the origin of the gold, tungsten, tin, and tantalum through their supply chains to the original smelter in order to comply with the Dodd-Frank requirements for disclosing the use of conflict minerals?

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @EdwardSmith

    Wow!

    Someone spray Goof Gas around the White House.

    Rocky-Bullwinkle-Goof-Gas.jpg

    They might do less damage Dumber than they do Too Clever By Half.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @

    An old photoshop I did seems appropriate:

    BigMommy.jpg

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    Less than a decade ago, a billion dollars sounded like a lot of money. Now the First Lady loses that much in the couch cushions each year.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Contributor
    @SonofSpengler

    From a design standpoint, I think the new labels actually do constitute an improvement. And as long as we have labeling, the rules are going to be modified and updated from time to time. That’s simply the reality of administering a food labeling law.

    However, in this case, are the modifications going to more good than harm? In order to reach that conclusion, you have to be (a) somewhat cavalier about the costs, (b) somewhat delusional that this labeling is materially better than the old labeling at conveying information, and/or (c) completely unrealistic about the ability of this change to influence people’s behavior. I think this change fails any realistic cost-benefit analysis.

    In a vacuum, I doubt this change would be a big deal. But it is yet another display of this administration’s monumental arrogance. Motivation? Save people from themselves. Substantive change? Minuscule. Costs? Who cares?

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @mask

    2 Billion?  That’s all?  You can’t even build a decent website for that much anymore.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    For $2,000,000,000 you’d think we’d be able to get something awesome like anti-gravity shoes or transporter technology.

    Just labels? Jeez.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @KellyB

    Considering that the daily recommendations for macronutrients come out of bad science and government lobbying by various agricultural organizations, I start by doubting that they’re even recommending the right things. The way I eat, 37 grams of carbohydrates is closer to 80% of my daily intake, not 12%, and I’m targeting high saturated fat.

    So this is a complete waste of money to start with, and changing the layout and font seems like a bad case of Titanic deck-chair rearranging to me.

    Oh – and the way I tell if I’m feeding my family something healthy? It doesn’t have one of those labels on it to start with (i.e., vegetables and meat).

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TheKingPrawn
    Kelly B: Oh – and the way I tell if I’m feeding my family something healthy? It doesn’t have one of those labels on it to start with (i.e., vegetables and meat). · in 1 minute

    You’re probably part of the 1% who can afford something other than frozen and canned food.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Leaving the merits of the proposed changes aside, how does redesigning the labels cost $2 billion?  They cite 700,000 items affected.  That’s almost $3000/item label.  To change the layout and font size?

    I’ll offer my services right now to any label-producing business out there to implement those changes for $1500/label.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @genferei

    Can you imagine trying to start a business selling packaged food? How much would you have to spend on consultants and inspectors and compliance officers and, and, and…

    This stuff kills jobs. It kills innovation. It kills hope. It kills people. What are the chances of a single 2016 candidate making a stand on this stuff?

    The answer is in the cholesterol.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @KellyB
    The King Prawn

    Kelly B: Oh – and the way I tell if I’m feeding my family something healthy? It doesn’t have one of those labels on it to start with (i.e., vegetables and meat). · in 1 minute

    You’re probably part of the 1% who can afford something other than frozen and canned food. · 10 minutes ago

    Shoot – I’m part of the 1% who can afford seeds for my garden too!

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @EdwardSmith

    Just out of curiosity, Kelly, can you use the seeds from this year’s crop to plant next year’s, or are the plants designed to not yield their own “seed corn”.

    Kelly B

    The King Prawn

    Kelly B: Oh – and the way I tell if I’m feeding my family something healthy? It doesn’t have one of those labels on it to start with (i.e., vegetables and meat). · in 1 minute

    You’re probably part of the 1% who can afford something other than frozen and canned food. · 10 minutes ago

    Shoot – I’m part of the 1% who can afford seeds for my garden too! · 1 minute ago

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @KellyB
    Edward Smith: Just out of curiosity, Kelly, can you use the seeds from this year’s crop to plant next year’s, or are the plants designed to not yield their own “seed corn”.

    Kelly B

    The King Prawn

    Kelly B: Oh – and the way I tell if I’m feeding my family something healthy? It doesn’t have one of those labels on it to start with (i.e., vegetables and meat). · in 1 minute

    You’re probably part of the 1% who can afford something other than frozen and canned food. · 10 minutes ago

    Shoot – I’m part of the 1% who can afford seeds for my garden too! · 1 minute ago

    Edited in 6 minutesin 5 minutes

    I suspect I cannot – but I haven’t tried. I do plant grocery store russet potatoes in order to produce more of them, though – and that works quite well.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Member
    @VanceRichards

    Bolder fonts!?

    So the thinking is that if the fonts get fatter our guts will get thinner? Has that theory been tested?

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Inactive
    @EdwardSmith

    Someday we’re all gonna look back on this and … scream, shout and cry some more.

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KCMulville

    Meetings on font sizes?

    Yeah. I’ve been to those kind of meetings.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @LeslieWatkins

    The changes don’t even address the real problem with these labels: that they don’t reflect one serving, which is what most packages are. I have spent way too much time at the nearby snack bar trying to figure out what one serving in an 8-serving bag of cheese popcorn means, knowing full well that I’m not going to limit myself to 2/3s of a cup! What this label really says is that this container has 296 grams of carbs (the total amount suggested per day is somewhere around 20) and 1,840 calories. If that amount were displayed honestly, it would definitely put off people, even people like me who want the information but give in to my cravings because it’s just too much of a hassle to do the math in my head. My fault, yes. But the label itself is completely dishonest, no less so with the proposed changes.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DespairTroll

    You know, if you stop paying the costs of other people’s diet choices, maybe they’ll make the choices you’d like them to make…

    I’ll take just 1% of that $2 billion now, in 20’s and 100’s please, and you can spend the rest of that on nice clothes.  There’s a 20 ounce burger challenge at my local burger joint I’ve been meaning to do.

    • #25

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