Strolling the grocery store aisles, some packages scream their ingredients at you, others whisper. Others….are inconclusive.
Since the FDA can’t seem to get their act together regarding standardized labeling of gluten-free foods, it’s been up to manufacturers to get the proper information to consumers. Much of the time, this comes down to packaging. Sexy, innovative packaging design is great, but even better is clear and consistent labeling. For our money, we find Trader Joe’s is among the best at this. For one, they were on top of the issue years before other manufacturers gave gluten-free items much thought. For another, they offer a wide variety of products, with some glaring exceptions. But importantly, they have a clear packaging solution.
This straightforward system of package logos/labels is great, because it takes just a glance, and without reading the ingredient list, you know it’s safe to eat. Additionally, Trader Joe’s has a comprehensive list on their website of products without gluten. And lastly, their stores offer incredible value, often times half the price of a similar product elsewhere. Score!
This kind of approach isn’t exclusive to TJ’s. Indeed, many manufacturers have gotten savvy about their packaging. We follow the website Lovely Package, which tracks beautiful packaging design from all over the world. You’ll find a wide array of products being designed to appeal to customers while also communicating their ingredients in a smart manner.
Yet some of them ‘scream’ their gluten-free aspect, which may be nice in the short term, but you wonder if it’s more of a marketing trick than a long-term solution. In our opinion, a more standardized-type label makes things more clear, without having to use huge type to get your ingredients across.
Regardless, it is very nice to see the wave of new or revised food products reach our store shelves over the last year or so. We’ll keep the pressure on the FDA to finally agree upon standardized labeling and rules for consumers. In the meantime, happy shopping!