Nutrition Action Healthletter
Center for Science in the Public InterestJuly/August 2001 — U.S. Edition 

And for someone who’s allergic to nuts, the ingredient list can mean the difference between life and death. So why in tarnation do some manufacturers make them so hard to read? Good luck reading the ingredient lists shown here—all full-size.
White out
Did someone in the design department think that white type looks elegant on a yellow background?
 
Hungry Jack Extra Light and Fluffy Pancake Mix
Hard (at least for some [make that all] people) to follow)
Ingredients are listed from most to least, but you lose that order when (usually junky) foods list the ingredients in the ingredients. (And you may lose your patience trying to find the end of the brackets or parentheses.) For example, in this label the ingredients of the “artificial fruit punch flavor” are tucked into the ingredients of the “fruit punch flavored filling.” Got that?
 
Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Wild! Tropical Blast
Heavy Metal
If you don’t catch the light just right, you’ll never see the type on this metallic background. (And unless you tear the package, you can’t read the Nutrition Facts label, which is hidden under the folded wrapper.)
 
Pecan Delight
No contrast
Why print ingredient and nutrition information on brown type against a (slightly darker) brown background? Someone’s idea of a vision test?
 
Ball Park Fat Free Franks
Squinting Helps
It’s not clear which is worse: the tiny blue type on a clear background or the tiny blue type against the meat-colored background.
 
Butterball Lean Turkey Smoked Sausage
Condensed Soup...And Type
What makes this ingredient list so hard to read? ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (true for almost all ingredient lists),TOO LITTLE SPACE BETWEEN LETTERS AND LINES, CONDENSED TYPE, and lots of parentheses or brackets (always a challenge to find where they start and stop). The placemat in the background is lovely, but putting it under the type doesn’t help.
 
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Roasted Garlic Soup
 
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Nutrition Action Healthletter How Now, Mad Cow? by David Schardt and Stephen Schmidt Label Watch Don't Forget Your Magnifying Glass Sometimes a label's ingredient list can help you see through the decpective tricks on the front of a food package. Subscribe Today! Customer Service