Brooklyn, New York has proclaimed its next health “movement.” No, it’s not switchel cocktails or bone broth; it’s simply reading ingredients on food labels.
Eric L. Adams, president of the Borough of Brooklyn, proclaimed Sept. 7 “Read Your Label Day.” The proclamation was made in conjunction with Victoria Fine Foods’ “Read Your Label” movement, which encourages families to be more aware of the ingredients in their food. To celebrate, Victoria Fine Foods (VFF) invited members of the media to The Kitchen Table event space in NYC to learn about the campaign and enjoy a luncheon reception featuring Victoria Fine Foods sauces and products.
Mitzi Dulan, RD and team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals, kicked off the event by showing off some bling from the World Champion KC Royals and explaining the importance of label reading from her perspective as a mom and nutritionist.
“‘Read Your Label’ is about simplicity, transparency and being informed,” Dulan said. “The campaign is kicking off just in time for back to school, and it’s a good time for it because people are looking for healthier habits right now.” Reading labels helps create healthier habits, because consumers become more aware of the ingredients in the products they feed themselves and their families, Dulan noted.
However, the percent of U.S. consumers who actually read the Nutrition Facts label is declining, according to global information company The NPD Group. Nearly a quarter of consumers (24 percent) said they do not look at the label. Comparatively, a decade ago, 15 percent of consumers who said they did not read the label.
“The goal of ‘Read Your Label’ is to encourage consumers to be informed about what they put in themselves and their families,” said Tim Shanley, CEO of Victoria Fine Foods. “The entire family is affected by the decision, not just the purchaser.”
Shanely explained that while Brooklyn-based Victoria Fine Foods has always listed its ingredients on the front of its label and has been transparent about what goes into its products, the company is hoping the movement reaches beyond its message. “For us, this is a crusade,” Shanley said. “Better living is as easy as turning your wrist to read the label and see what’s in the jar, box, etc.”
In addition to officially launching the campaign—which includes a call-out to consumers to promise to “read their label” and take an online pledge—Shanley announced that for every pledge, Victoria will donate $1 (up to $10,000) to Spoons Across America, a non-profit that focuses on teaching school kids the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating.
Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior advisor to Brooklyn Borough president, read the “Read Your Label Day” proclamation to attendees on Adams’ behalf: “All of Brooklyn joins today to recognize and honor Victoria Fine Foods for its outstanding contributions to increase public awareness about the importance of choosing healthier options.”
After the proclamation was officially read, attendees were invited to read the labels of and taste Victoria’s products. Appetizers included VFF’s new Marinara made with Avocado Oil served with mini grilled cheese; mini pizza margarita made with buffalo mozzarella, VFF’s new pizza sauce and basil; crispy prosciutto mini pizza made with VFF’s pizza sauce, ricotta and chives; and penne marinara from VFF’s new Chef Collection, a heat-and-serve pasta in a premium sauce.
By the time the main course was served, I was stuffed, but something that Dulan said resonated with me: “Clean labels and short ingredient lists are important, but great taste is mandatory.”
Taste was king during the luncheon—everything was delicious! Hopefully, the campaign reaches beyond VFF’s message, so the number of consumers that read the nutrition and ingredient labels increases.