241195 Food Industry's Front of Package Labeling: Cautionary Tales from Tobacco Control

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:42 PM

Mark A. Gottlieb, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute / AAP Richmond Center, Boston, MA
Andrew Cheyne, CPhil , Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Lori Dorfman, DrPH , Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Richard A. Daynard, JD, PhD , Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Lissy C. Friedman, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Cara Wilking, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Introduction. In the 1950s and 1960s, the tobacco industry successfully delayed and weakened public health packaging regulation, in part by adopting a series of self-regulatory initiatives. Since YEAR, the food and beverage industry appears to be following a similar pattern regarding front-of-package [FOP] labeling. The American Beverage Association's and Grocery Manufacturer Association's 2011 FOP proposals appear calculated to undercut effective, consumer-friendly labeling requirements proposed by the Institute of Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration.

Methods. To compare tobacco and food industry responses to labeling regulation, we analyzed (1) legislative hearings, (2) litigation transcripts, (3) industry documents, and (4) news coverage pertaining to each event. We analyzed the private and publicly stated positions of key actors –industry, government, and public health advocates–around these important labeling policy events.

Results. The tobacco industry fought a lengthy battle to prevent regulation, including issuing the “Frank Statement” in 1954, and adopting 2 separate voluntary advertising codes before lobbying Congress to weaken the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. Our ongoing analysis of the FOP event indicates that the content and timing of the industries' initiatives may be intended to have the same chilling effect on regulation.

Discussion. We provide evidence that the food and beverage industry is following strategies from the tobacco industry's “playbook.” Food and nutrition advocates and researchers must be aware of the food and beverage industry's activities if successful labeling policies are to be enacted in spite of industry opposition.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the history of public health efforts to create package labels on foods and cigarettes. Compare the food and tobacco industries' attempts to use self-regulation to stave off, and then water down, regulatory and legislative agendas of advocates and policymakers. Analyze the food industry's ongoing efforts to prevent front-of-package labeling regulation.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Tobacco Industry

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I directed the law and policy portions of this study. My focus has been researching tobacco litigation as a public health strategy, as well as examining legal and policy approaches to address obesity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.