Signs of Change or Clash of Symbols? FDA Regulation of Nutrient Profile Labeling
Health Matrix, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 217, 2010
52 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2009 Last revised: 29 Jul 2010
Date Written: November 20, 2009
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.
Keywords: food label, front-of-package labeling, nutrient profile
JEL Classification: D18, K23, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation