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Signs of Change or Clash of Symbols? FDA Regulation of Nutrient Profile Labeling

Timothy D. Lytton

Albany Law School

November 20, 2009

Health Matrix, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 217, 2010
Albany Law School Research Paper No. 26

A new generation of food labels uses symbols and ratings on the front of packages and on supermarket shelves to indicate a product’s nutritional value. Proponents of these new labels assert that they help consumers make healthier dietary choices. Critics contend that the new labels are confusing and misleading. This article argues that, with some minor reforms, the FDA’s existing regulatory framework governing nutrient content claims on food labels is well suited to balance these competing considerations. With regard to the most novel and complex labels - those that rate the overall nutritional value of food products based on detailed algorithms - the article proposes that the FDA provide minimum standards that would prevent fraudulent or misleading claims while allowing for genuine experimentation and competition within the private sector that is likely to advance knowledge in the areas of nutrition and food labeling as a public health strategy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: food label, front-of-package labeling, nutrient profile

JEL Classification: D18, K23, Q18

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Date posted: November 21, 2009 ; Last revised: July 29, 2010

Suggested Citation

Lytton, Timothy D., Signs of Change or Clash of Symbols? FDA Regulation of Nutrient Profile Labeling (November 20, 2009). Health Matrix, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 217, 2010; Albany Law School Research Paper No. 26. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1510283

Contact Information

Timothy D. Lytton (Contact Author)
Albany Law School ( email )
80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States
518-445-2397 (Phone)

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