Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Can We Equate Truthful Nutrition Labels to a Healthier America?

By Adrian JonesPublished November 9, 2014

The F.D.A. plans to revise nutrition labels on food. Revisions would require manufacturers to provide labels that more closely match proportions of food consumed by the average American, and would require companies to explicitly differentiate between true natural components of food and "natural additives." The F.D.A. believes consumers will make more informed decisions about the food they eat, and therefore will reduce obesity rates overtime. Companies in the food industry oppose these new regulations because they believe that too much government intervention will negatively alter the food market industry.

By Adrian Jones, 11/9/2014

Back in the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) mandated that nutrition labels be placed on packaged foods in order to inform consumers of the unhealthy facts about they food they were eating. Essentially, the F.D.A. thought this mandate would encourage American citizens to eat a more nutritious diet. They also believed that this requirement would encourage manufacturers to reduce its unhealthy contents. Instead, manufactures have added various vitamins and minerals to their products in order to appear healthier than they actually are.

The F.D.A. originally believed that this mandate would create a "healthier America" but obesity rates have continuously increased in recent years. Also, the labels have not been particularly useful to the average consumer because most do not know how to relate the values on the label to the actual amount of food they're consuming.

Now the F.D.A. is looking to revise its originally mandate on nutrition labels to require manufacturers to explicitly differentiate between which ingredients are naturally present from those that were superficially added.  They also propose making the serving sizes on labels larger in order to stay proportionate to the average amount that Americans are consuming. They want food labels to accurately reflect the amount of food that is actually eaten by the average consumer.

Some have argued that the new revisions would alter the food market industry, because consumers will most likely stay away from those products that artificially add "nutritional value."

The F.D.A.
believes the new labels would be more helpful to average consumers because they would focus on specific nutrients and expose companies who falsify natural products that fool many customers.