Online Program

Legal strategies to increase funding and improve the fda's authority over food labeling violations and questionable claims

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Yale University, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, New Haven, CT
A significant public health challenge in the United States stems from chronic diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity, both of which are linked to diets high in processed food and beverages. The FDA is the agency responsible for the safety and labeling of processed food products.

Congress granted the FDA the authority to protect consumers and public health from misbranded products; however, the agency's enforcement authority is not uniform. In the area of food labeling, the FDA lacks particular authorities that it holds over other products or that Congress has granted to the FTC. In addition, the current labeling regulations do not match current nutrition information or are too lax and Congress has not provided the FDA with funding to address the full gamut of questionable claims. These barriers to enforcement have proven to be a great challenge to the FDA's ability to adequately address misleading claims and misbranded food. The result has been a proliferation of claims on packaged food that create a misleading impression of health.

This presentation proposes an innovative method for increased funding and increased authority for the FDA to address questionable claims on food products. It argues that Congress must grant the agency specific powers to create a deterrence-based system of enforcement in order to meet current public health challenges and adequately ensure that consumers are properly informed and protected. This presentation will appeal to lawyers and non-lawyers given the wide interest in FDA policy and food labeling laws. No legal expertise is needed.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify the lack of authority the FDA holds over food label compared to its authority over other products. Differentiate between the authorities granted to the FDA and FTC regarding misleading and questionable claims. Explain how Congress can provide the FDA with the resources and authority to reign in the proliferation of questionable claims.

Keyword(s): Health Law, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published and presented on food policy and public health law since 2006. I am the Director of Legal Initiatives at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and have a Juris Doctorate and Masters in Public Health.
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.