Debbie Knight

Carbon-free label confusion

In observation on September 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

My husband and I were at the grocery store this weekend. We were in the baking section and I saw this label on a canister of sugar: “Certified: Carbon free.”

Neither of us had seen this product labeling before. And we each interpreted this label differently.

I thought: “Carbon free? Does this mean carbon (maybe charcoal)  is used in the production of granulated sugar?  Great. Something else I have to worry about in my food.

My husband thought: How do you make sugar carbon free? It’s a chemical with carbon in its structure.

Turns out this simple-yet- confusing label is really trying to convey that the product has a neutral carbon footprint. And that the company uses eco-friendly power that not only is used for the sugar factory but also powers residential homes. That last part is important — it offsets the carbon footprint that it took to ship that canister of  sugar to my grocer.

While I think it’s a great idea to label eco-friendly products, I think they need to use a less confusing label — especially for a scientist.


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