WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has announced new technology that will provide consumers with a tool aimed at helping them make well-informed decisions about products and help manufacturers disclose product information directly to consumers.
The SmartLabel initiative was announced on Dec. 2 and allows consumers to access detailed information about a product’s ingredients by scanning the barcode located on the product’s label, or by conducting a simple search online. Consumers can also find out through SmartLabel whether any of the product’s ingredients contain GMOs.
“People want to know more about the food, beverage, pet care, household and personal care products that they buy, use and consume, and the innovative SmartLabel technology initiative puts detailed information about thousands of products right at their fingertips,” said Roger Lowe, the executive vice president of strategic communications of Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Companies providing those types of products are targets of class action lawsuits alleging their labels are misleading.
Giving manufacturers the opportunity to provide more detail about products may prove to be beneficial for defendants in litigation accused of not disclosing product information.
Lowe said that whether a company facing a misleading label class action lawsuit could have more defenses available if they use SmartLabel is a matter ultimately for the courts to address.
“Generally speaking, if any consumer – including a potential class action plaintiff - wants detailed information about a product, SmartLabel provides multiple ways to get to the landing page that contains this information. It also enables people to do a deeper dive into any questions they have that go beyond what is contained in an on-pack label,” he said.
Lowe believes the benefits of SmartLabel are groundbreaking - “Consumers instantaneously have access to a wide variety of information and can hone in on a question they have on an ingredient or product in just one or two clicks. Our research shows that 75 percent of consumers surveyed are likely to use SmartLabel,” he said.
The response to SmartLabel has been very positive so far, and the chances of it being adopted industry-wide seem to be increasing as word of the innovative tool spreads, Lowe said.
“SmartLabel™ has just been announced, and more than 30 leading U.S. companies already are committed to using SmartLabel™ on products to make it easier for people to find detailed ingredient information," Lowe said.
"This number will continue to grow. Some companies are beginning to use SmartLabel™ early in 2016 – and the number of products on store shelves will grow rapidly over the next two years.”
Lowe added that companies are projecting that 30,000 total products will use SmartLabel by the end of 2017.