EPA Is Getting Into Labels

The agency best known for its environmental regulations is trying to become consumer-friendly.

EPA issued new labels for insect repellent Wednesday, the latest agency attempt to create consumer-friendly standards for products.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Nov. 7, 2013, 9:46 a.m.

You wouldn’t buy sun­screen without first check­ing the SPF la­bel. You prob­ably even check the nu­tri­tion facts on your food from time to time. And soon, the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency hopes, con­sumers will come to ex­pect sim­il­ar la­bels on used cars, in­sect re­pel­lents, and a host of oth­er products.

“It is very much a con­cer­ted ef­fort on the agency’s part,” said Jim Jones, who helped design EPA’s in­sect re­pel­lent la­bels that de­b­uted Wed­nes­day. “We’re really try­ing to fig­ure out where we can provide in­form­a­tion in a man­ner that is eas­ily ac­cess­ible to the av­er­age con­sumer and trust­ing that the Amer­ic­an pub­lic makes in­formed de­cisions.”

The agency is seek­ing pub­lic feed­back on its new re­pel­lent la­bels, which tell con­sumers if a product keeps away mos­qui­toes or ticks, and for how long. That in­form­a­tion isn’t new, Jones said, but pre­vi­ous stand­ards made it in­con­sist­ently placed and “densely com­mu­nic­ated.”

At­tempts to stand­ard­ize and sim­pli­fy product in­form­a­tion, EPA ad­mits, are modeled after the pre­ced­ent set by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We used the SPF mod­el,” Jones said of the latest la­bel. In the design stage, EPA sought the ad­vice of the FDA, which also has been re­quir­ing nu­tri­tion la­bels on pack­aged foods since 1990. “The co­ordin­a­tion with FDA was largely about learn­ing from their ex­per­i­ence,” Jones said. “What works with con­sumers? What doesn’t work?”

In­sect re­pel­lent isn’t EPA’s first for­ay in­to stand­ard­ized product la­beling. Earli­er this year, the agency ex­pan­ded its fuel-mileage stick­ers to in­clude used cars. Al­though the stick­ers’ ad­jus­ted stand­ards dropped mileage es­tim­ates from ori­gin­al claims, many in the car-sales in­dustry lauded their uni­form­ity and trans­par­ency. “Any­body who’s selling a car, deal­er­ships es­pe­cially, are go­ing to be look­ing for any edge they can get,” Auto­Trader.com site ed­it­or Bri­an Moody told Na­tion­al Journ­al last month. “What bet­ter way to get that edge than an of­fi­cial stick­er from the gov­ern­ment?”

Con­sumer ad­voc­ates also wel­come the ex­pan­sion of gov­ern­ment-stand­ard la­bels. “It’s help­ful for the gov­ern­ment to set some sort of stand­ard so that all products are meet­ing that,” said the Con­sumer Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica’s Chris Waldrop. “You want to make sure that the la­bel is something con­sumers can use and un­der­stand.” Based on past suc­cess stor­ies, Waldrop said, it won’t take long for oth­er la­bels to catch on. “Once [nu­tri­tion la­beling] was on the pack­age, con­sumers star­ted us­ing it and find­ing it use­ful,” he said.

So far, feed­back has been pos­it­ive on the new re­pel­lent la­bel, Jones said. Fo­cus groups that tested the la­bel found it to be help­ful, and man­u­fac­tur­ers have mostly wel­comed the in­creased clar­ity.

So what’s next on EPA’s la­bel cam­paign? Jones has his eye on the Design for the En­vir­on­ment pro­gram, which des­ig­nates products that are en­vir­on­ment­ally safe. While its aims are good, “that la­bel doesn’t really res­on­ate,” Jones said. “We’re go­ing to re­design that la­bel … in a way that it’s really clear to the con­sumer what we’re try­ing to con­vey to them.”

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
6 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×