Category Archives: Digital Printing

Claims, Claims, and MORE Claims

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made commendable strides since the packaging and advertising claims of the 1960s.  For instance, take a look at this advertisement from the early 1900s.  Will our generations’ ads look this outlandish in 30 years?  I hope not.

Manufacturers were once only required to include nutritional content on store packaging, but now due to FDA mandating, we are able to receive nutritional content in many chain restaurants that have over 20 locations.   Although we have made great advancements in including nutritional information on the label, what about false claims

It is interesting to take note of the product claims plastering the product labels and packaging while you are at the grocery store: “Sustainable,” “just like grandma’s,” “home cooking,” “organic,” “natural,” and “home-style”. (I didn’t realize “grandma” made things out of a box in the 1950s!).  At the Innova Market Insights IFT Food Expo this year, “researchers tracked 987 new products that use the world “simple,” “simplest” or “simplicity” in 2009, compared to 467 in 2008” (and that is just including product claims including different versions of ONE word). 

One claim that can be made for conventional foods and dietary supplements is “nutrient content.”  However, the FDA is increasingly concerned with how harmful supposedly nutrient-content food can actually be.  According to an article written by Marion Nestle and David Ludwig, ” [At one point] the FDA permitted food packages to indicate “contains 7 essential nutrients”, but continued to prohibit statements that food or products could prevent, treat, or mitigate disease.” 

 Since then, several products have ‘stirred up’ the marketplace and certain regulations became more relaxed.  Ludwig points out that after Kellogg Cereal made ‘health claims’ in 1984, other companies saw that Kellogg’s market share increased by 47%. Competitors wanted to be able to follow the trend.  Since this, the FDA has ruled that ‘substantiated’ health claims are acceptable. 

BUT, what exactly is a ‘substantiated health claim?”  There is gray area between a health claim and health “guidance” (which only suggests dietary patterns).  Under this act, even fruits and vegetables are not eligible to make a “health claim.”  It would be considered a dietary guidance, since they maintain a healthy structure.  Although the FDA has stated they must be truthful, the dietary guidance statements are NOT subject to FDA review.  Thus, many products find ‘loopholes’ into making false label claims. 

Not only are companies making health claims by added text to their product labels, but some product names suggest health benefits, such as Slim Fast.  The word ‘fast’ is overlooked since it does not detail specific claims explaining how much weight loss the consumer will experience and what timeframe they will lose weight within.  Another, and possibly the most disappointing claim, is seeing the term “ONLY 100 CALORIES”.  The disappointment comes when you take a closer look and realize that the serving size is less than one ounce!      

My suggestion is for the FDA to make a more universal plan of action.  Semantics causes a great deal of the problems, since many countries have different regulations and opposite ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t.   For example, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the European Union will soon require a warning label on products with six food color additives.  This is a result of a link found between harmful additives and hyperactivity in children.  Thus, Europe would like to discontinue use of synthetic materials and replace them with natural alternatives.  While Europe moves towards natural food color additives, the United States has products such as Green Ketchup. 

Another recent event occurred due to packaging procedures not being unified involves a miscommunication regarding bi-lingual label requirements in Vancouver.  A Vancouver grocer was ‘out’ $20,000.00 because a cheese label “said “feta” or “Monterey jack” but failed to include the word “cheese.”  She had to remove products from her shelves in order to comply with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).      

Europe and other countries should form a common language, so the same guideline applies to all parts of the world.  Unifying terminology and classifying claims would make a colossal impact on decreasing the deceptive nature of product labels.  Perhaps a move like this will not work without the help of the people and marketers.  For instance, in the UK there is a campaign being implemented called ‘Change4Life.’  In this campaign, the government works with the marketers in order to decrease obesity by informing customers of nutritional content on product labels.  Big brands such as Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart are able to unite through these marketing efforts.   

What is your take on the current nutrition labeling controversy?  Do you freedom of speech gives companies have a right to establish said health claims?  Let the FDA know; the FDA is looking for our input, afterall.  What would you suggest to the FDA?

 Voice your opinion!  Visit the FDA site and select “submit a comment.”  Supply the number: FDA-2010-N-0298; then select “search” button.


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Filed under Digital Printing, product labels, Uncategorized, Vibrant Graphics

From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Gutenberg from:

As I watch my 80-year-old grandmother attempt to figure out how a wireless computer ‘mouse’ is relevant to the workings of a computer, I wonder if a complete shift to the digital landscape is truly plausible.  A while back, I researched how students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin choose to keep themselves updated on worldly news.  A shocking 80% of students claimed that the most informative outlet was the good ‘old’ newspaper.  According to a study completed by OnCampus Research, 74% of US college students still prefer to use a printed textbook while taking a class(, 2010). 

This is a highly significant in the current digital climate; with today’s MTV culture having an attention span of three seconds or less, this may prove that people still want credible, well told stories (instead of a Tweeted update).  The question is: will people choose information over visuals?   The four reasons listed below confirm PEOPLE STILL LIKE PRINT!

1)  Major paper-based publications have seen steady business

According to Vanity Fair Publications, people do choose quality content over iconic visuals.  “[Vanity Fair] print circulation (both newsstands and subscriptions) is emphatically up at a time when everyone tells us it is supposed to be down.”  Consumers may appreciate the tangible aspect of the information, or the fact that many articles written in print are less biased as those on the web (which, let’s face it, many exposed articles tend to be highly opinioned and sometimes fabricated).

In a 2006 study conducted by the Direct Marketing Assocition (DMA), the DMA found that when it came time to generate orders, 60% of orders came from printed catalogs, 24% by retail settings, and only 9% of orders were obtained using the internet. (, 2010).  This may be proof that tangibility can result in further brand recognition.  For instance, if you have gotten a magazine, chances are there may be a sale or coupon insert that you may hold onto.  Having something like this in your hand is easier than trying to remember to print out the coupon and travel to said store.

 2)  Digital gate-keepers are not always credible.  is an example of this – would you take a piece of information from Wikipedia and site this as expert advice in a research paper (when the article could very well have been written by a 12-year-old boy)?  Probably not.

 There might be a link between education and the computer, but does the digital revolution guarantee excellence in learning? According to Artbox Creative research (2010), “B-to-B magazines were viewed by prospects as trustworthy and objective, websites were seen as the place where they received timely information, and trade shows were viewed as the place for interactions and to improve their awareness of alternatives.” People do still find value in print.

 3)  There are digital disadvantages

The Kindle, for instance, is a fairly new product on the market and allows one to download books for free, from the public domain.  Printing Industry guru, Frank Romano, said, “It is a mistake to assume that electronic content will eventually replace books.”  Like Napster, Kindle faces several challenges – these works that are now able to be downloaded for free are sure to become protected instead of being openly shared.  In addition to protected resources, many universities such as Syracuse and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are discontinuing use due to complaints from organizations that advocate for the blind.

 As the costs of digitalization decreases, there becomes less of a ‘digital divide’ and more people have access to various learning platforms.  However, as many consumers are able to use social media outlets to expose relevant information. Mitchel Resnick of The Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology understands that there is a difference between having access to online forums and being fluent in online applications.  Resnick compares online fluency to language fluency: can you say a couple of words in German, or do you REALLY know the language?    

4)  Print + digital = lasting impressions

It is difficult to have a ‘stickiness effect’ with just online advertising.  With digital news being oversaturated, it is simple to dismiss advertisements and stories.  With print, there is a higher ROI since many magazines are distributed over and over.  For example, if you are in a doctor’s office and are waiting over 20 minutes for an appointment, you will most likely take a look at a magazine nearby.  That person might take the magazine home, and pass it on to their friend, and so on.  Sure, this person might be able to send a link to somebody, but not everybody opens every email with the high amount of spam.  Print is more personal, and not an attack on your inbox.  Print is lasting.

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Filed under Digital Media, Digital Printing, New Technology, Vibrant Graphics