LED Lighting Stirs Debate Over Food Presentation
Department stores use flattering lighting for dressing rooms and jewelers carefully illuminate their display cases. But are such lighting techniques appropriate for food?
Nualight, an Irish firm that makes display lights for supermarkets and has recently been targeting the U.S. market, is introducing LED lights that are largely designed to save energy in the long run. LED lights also emit no infrared or ultraviolet light, which minimizes heat and, consequently, the spoiling of fruits and vegetables.
But another selling point for LED lights at supermarkets is that they can make food look brighter and more colorful.
“We can turn fruit into diamonds,” Paul Kelly, a VP at Nualight, said in the September issue of Food Network Magazine.
Speaking to Discovery News, affiliated with The Discovery Channel, Mr. Kelly said he can almost replicate the color of the sun’s illumination using digital LED lighting. LED bulbs can be programmed to accent individual colors on food, such as reds for meat or yellows and greens for produce.
“It really makes the food pop compared to a fluorescent light,” Liam Flanagan, store director at The Star Market in Chestnut Hill, MA, told Discovery News. The store went all-LED in October 2009. He added, “A few customers commented saying the fruit looks more colorful than other stores.”
However, the Discovery News article noted that several states have adopted a rule promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that limits certain kind of lighting as deceptive. The rule states that “food or color additives, colored overwraps, or lights may not be used to misrepresent the true appearance, color, or quality of a food.” Whether LED lights violate the rule appears up to debate. LED light suppliers contend they only enhance the looks of produce and other foods but do not change the appearance of it.
Showing their own wariness to the idea, Food Network Magazine’s editors entitled their article, “Supermarket shoppers should beware of tricky lighting” while pointing its readers to the rules in some states over deceptive lighting. But Mr. Kelly defended the practice, “You create a nice mood when you’re eating dinner. The same should be true when you’re shopping for those ingredients.”
- Food Network
- LED Lighting Makes Food Look More Appetizing – NewsDiscovery.com
- LED Lighting: The New Sunshine in Grocery Stores – igreenbuild.com
Discussion Questions: Do you see atmospheric lighting as enhancing or misrepresenting food presentation?