Calling for the food industry to put voluntary nutrition labeling initiatives on hold, Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Childhood Obesity, has co-authored an opinion piece about front-of-package nutrition labeling in The New England Journal of Medicine. Among other matters, the article recommends that industry leaders await an Institute of Medicine report with nutrition labeling recommendations due for release this fall.

Brownell suggests that the nutrition keys system under development by
the industry may confuse consumers by “including so many symbols” and
allowing companies the discretion to change the nutrients listed. According
to the article, “The most notable deficiency of the industry system is its lack
of a science-based, easily understood way to show consumers whether
foods have a high, medium, or low amount of a particular nutrient.” Brownell contends that the traffic-light system used in Great Britain is much clearer. See NEJM, June 23, 2011.

In a related development, National Public Radio recently included a segment
on its “Morning Edition” program about the government’s proposal to
reduce the amount of “junk food” advertising to which children are exposed.
The program focused on whether the proposed guidelines should include
teens or simply focus on children younger than 12. Briefly mentioned were
new methods of advertising by means of social media, such as cell phone
messages and online games, of which teens are “heavy consumers.” Reporter
Yuki Noguchi noted that the Interagency Working Group, comprising the
Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control, seeks comments on the
proposal by July 14, 2011. See NPR, June 22, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.