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Just this week, national burrito chain Chipotle, which also supported Prop 37, realized like Whole Foods that it can act without being forced to do so by the government and began labeling all GMO ingredients.
This flood of voluntary information is not limited to the area GMO foods. Even as the FDA drags its heels on issuing regulations for restaurant menu labeling, big companies are filling that void thanks to consumer demand.
And this week, Starbucks announced it would start providing calorie information for all its products starting next week.
Add to these private, voluntary initiatives to meet consumer demand many longstanding private labels like kosher, halal, gluten free, Weight Watchers, and others. In that same spirit, a newer, growing crop of private certification labels is seeking to meet the dietary and informational needs of all sorts of consumers—from humane certification and scoring that certify a particular level of animal treatment to Paleo approved labels.
Private certification and attendant labeling has the potential to avoid nasty governmental disputes and lobbying that delay issuance of labels and water down the meaning of those labels once they're issued. Private solutions can provide consumers with the specific information they care about most at the point of purchase.
The federal government could never do so much. And so it should begin right now to do much less when it comes to mandating what must appear on food labels.