Optimizing label disclosures about food

Many posts on this blog have noted the difficulty in achieving consumer protection through disclosure (including disclosure through product labeling). If that interests you, you may want to read Science-Based Food Labels: Improving Regulations and Preventing Consumer Deception Through Limited Information Disclosure Requirements by Joshua Dhyani. (Note that, at page 33, Dhyani's piece prominently displays a quote from this blog's own Steve Gardner.)

Here is the abstract:

Our modern nutrition label is meant to allow consumers to make informed decisions about what they are eating. However, consumers increasingly make choices not necessarily based on the nutrition label, but on other messages and labels on food, such as “organic,” “GMO free,” and even claims as simple as “healthy.” In some cases these labels combine with false consumer expectations leading to consumer deception. The deception may be caused by a shift from regulating food products to regulating the food process or the result of the goals of the regulatory agency. The problems are exacerbated by recent progress in regulation focusing on areas that do not address pertinent problems, but instead respond to consumer demand without recognizing the underlying goals of regulation. Consumer demand, on its own is not enough to steer the direction of regulation. Unlike past regulation, recent regulations have taken an approach that undermines consumer protection, is not adequately responding to emerging information, and inappropriately allocates limited regulatory resources. By returning to scientifically sound regulation meant to protect and accurately inform consumers and not just respond to consumer demand, food regulation can be improved.

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