Smart Label: grocery shopping takes on smart phones

by Cassidy Belus

The Grocery Manufactures Associate launches an initiative to better inform people of the ingredients in their food. Called “Smart Label,” the idea allows people to use their smart phones to gain addition info on a product.

Companies have already started printing QR codes on their labels for immediate access.

Montana delegates are not fully on board though. Senator Jon Tester protested the idea saying that it may discriminate against a large segment of the population who can’t afford smart phones and that the initiative may “affect consumer’s privacy.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of Americans don’t have smart phones and not all that do are subscribed to mobile broadband. Though that number has almost doubled since 2011, it leaves the other 32 percent without a way to access the full information provided from the QR code.

Some Helena residents believe this information should be readily available for anyone regardless of their phone services.

A recent Mellman Group poll shows that over 80 percent of Americans believe food manufacturers should be restricted from collecting personal information, supporting one of Tester’s concerns.

Representative Ryan Zinke believes that Montanans have the right to know what’s in their food and labels should be accurate and transparent.

Senator Steve Daines has asked for public feedback on the issue.

Smart labels will be accessible later this year.