Packaged foods can be hard – not to cook, necessarily, but to choose. Deciphering the many labels can be confusing, with nutritional information, claims such as “reduced fat” and advertising perhaps blending together among the many products on a shelf.
Researchers in this country and others have been working to find a system of icons to put on the front of packages to help shoppers sort through the cacophony to figure out which products are healthful. In a new study published Tuesday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers – from Yale and Cornell universities and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -- found two styles of labels they said hold promise.
One of them is called the “multiple traffic light plus caloric intake” icon. It shows a picture with traffic light-like symbols in green, yellow or red to indicate high, medium or low levels of such ingredients as saturated fat, sugar or salt. The picture also includes calorie counts.
The other is called the “choices” icon. It is a simple check mark in a circle and says “healthy choice.” Foods would get that icon if they met independently set standards.