Monday, June 28, 2010

Truth in Packaging

Just came back from the grocery store. In trying to save some room in my cabinet where I generally put boxed cereal, I thought to take the cereal out of the cardboard box and just put the soft pack containing the cereal into the cabinet. On doing that, I saw half a package of the round O shaped cereal. Now I know that is not a surprise to anyone. It's not even a surprise to me, not really. Just to me it appears so deceptive seeming.
We know about the disappearing one pound coffee can/bag which morphed into 13 oz. (if we're lucky). We know that the one pound package of bacon is 12 oz. now and as with the coffee example, still the same price as the pound used to be. ( allowing for inflation of course).
With some cereals almost 4 dollars a box if you buy premium (so-called) brands you wish they would just go ahead and package it (I know about room for settling and some air for cushioning) more to it's real content size.
I got curious and went to an FDA Fair Packaging web site. I will put here what I learned.

Whenever the promulgating authority determines that regulations containing prohibitions or requirements other than those prescribed by section 1453 of this title are necessary to prevent the deception of consumers or to facilitate value comparisons as to any consumer commodity, such authority shall promulgate with respect to that commodity regulations effective to -

  • (1) establish and define standards for characterization of the size of a package enclosing any consumer commodity, which may be used to supplement the label statement of net quantity of contents of packages containing such commodity, but this paragraph shall not be construed as authorizing any limitation on the size, shape, weight or mass, dimensions, or number of packages which may be used to enclose any commodity;
  • (2) regulate the placement upon any package containing any commodity, or upon any label affixed to such commodity, of any printed matter stating or representing by implication that such commodity is offered for retail sale at a price lower than the ordinary and customary retail sale price or that a retail sale price advantage is accorded to purchasers thereof by reason of the size of that package or the quantity of its contents;
  • (3) require that the label on each package of a consumer commodity (other than one which is a food within the meaning of section 321(f) of title 21) bear (A) the common or usual name of such consumer commodity, if any, and (B) in case such consumer commodity consists of two or more ingredients, the common or usual name of each such ingredient listed in order of decreasing predominance, but nothing in this paragraph shall be deemed to require that any trade secret be divulged; or
  • (4) prevent the nonfunctional-slack-fill of packages containing consumer commodities. For purposes of paragraph (4) of this subsection, a package shall be deemed to be nonfunctionally slack-filled if it is filled to substantially less than its capacity for reasons other than (A) protection of the contents of such package or (B) the requirements of machines used for enclosing the contents in such package.
Number 4 looked interesting to me. It certainly appears to be appropriate to the cereal box self imposed dilemma. However, rather than go on and on, looking and researching and complaining..I think I will do what probably many have done. Go to see -through bag cereals. They really are just as good as the twice as expensive boxed ones where you get a surprise in every box i.e. not much in the box!!

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