Hain Celestial Group Inc., a leading natural and organic products company, is claiming that current front-of-package labeling is still too confusing for consumers.

Irwin D. Simon, the company’s president and ceo, says current Nutrition Keys can be misleading, and companies should change their approach before the government intervenes.

Developed by the food and beverage industry manufacturers and retailers in response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama last year, the voluntary Nutrition Keys program places important nutrition information (calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content) on the front of packages.

“For example, under Nutrition Keys, a snack product consisting of nothing more than refined sugar, artificial flavor, artificial color, a small amount of salt and a small amount of vitamin C could appear to be a vitamin-fortified, low-calorie, no-fat, low-salt, no-trans-fat product, implying that it is ‘good-for-you’ when it is actually a product of non-nutritive calories that could contribute to obesity,” Simon says.

He explains that companies have a responsibility to educate consumers so they can make good choices.

“We support continued research and discussion on this important issue,” Simon says.

The company also specifically sited a recent column in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which criticized the content and timing of the Nutrition Keys labeling system.

The NEJM article and Hain Celestial recommend that companies wait for an upcoming report by the Institute of Medicine, which convened an expert committee to issue guidelines for front-of-package labeling. The report is expected to be released in the fall.

Melville, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial Group Inc, manufactures the brand Sunspire, an all-natural and organic chocolate products line; and its namesake Hain Pure Foods, which produces crackers, cookies, oils and condiments, and functional snacks as well as a variety of other brands.

For more information, visit http://www.hain-celestial.com/.