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Dave Ross

Food labels and sticker shock

The ingredient labels should be on people. So if you see a fat guy, you'd read his label and know what not to eat, and then if Brad Pitt or Sofia Vergara walk by, you could look at their labels - and say, "I'll have what they're having." (AP Photos/File)

My big food label shock came on an ordinary day about five years ago when I picked up a shrink-wrapped cookie at a coffee shop and was about to eat it because it was only 230 calories when I happened to notice that according to the label, this ordinary-sized cookie in my hand was three servings.

So in fact, it was closer to 700 calories!

This wasn’t a cookie, it was a survival ration.

The point is, a food label can be technically accurate and still lie.

So the latest government food label proposal would do a few things, which I think make a lot of sense.

Servings must be a reasonable size, and the number of servings and the calorie count have to be in print big enough that somebody over 40 can read it.

Yet, even the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration can’t promise it’ll work.

“The label alone won’t magically change how America eats,” said FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.

Because face it, American food is just too delicious.

Our snack foods are better than sex, and our reality cooking shows have turned us all into competitive chefs who can create dessert out of a couple of parsnips and a walnut, so we have no chance.

The government would have to mandate tamper-proof seals that prevent even you from opening the package. People eventually tune out the labels because we’re labeling the wrong thing.

The ingredient labels should be on people. So if you see a fat guy, you’d read his label and know what not to eat, and then if Brad Pitt or Sofia Vergara walk by, you could look at their labels – and say, “I’ll have what they’re having.”

And you’d actually know what it is they’re having.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

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