The food industry has decided to set up its own nutrition labeling system. The President’s wife and FDA wanted the federal government do this. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies, decided the FDA approach is not to its liking.
The GMA said, “America’s leading food and beverage manufacturers and retailers today announced the launch of Nutrition Keys, a new voluntary front of pack nutrition labeling system that will help busy consumers make informed choices when they shop.”
The organization added “The Nutrition Keys program will change the look of the vast majority of the country’s most popular food and beverage products by placing important nutrition information (calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content) on the front of packages.”
Almost all industries would rather police themselves than have the government do it. The banking industry worked that way to a large extent before the credit crisis.
It is hard to imagine that the food industry is anxious to label its most unhealthy food as fatty and full of the things that can help cause obesity and diabetes. Of course, the sector may have decided that its past sins can be remedied. Americans may be thinner and healthier in the future, all due to the actions of GMA members.
Government regulation can be expensive and ineffective. The GMA argued that it can label food better than the FDA. The decision may be the start of a war between the government and the industry. The government usually wins these wars particularly if the Administration and Congress want to display their power. The GMA is begging for a fight.
A year or so from now the GMA initiative will probably be dead, steam-rolled by Michelle Obama, the FDA and their allies. The organization can look back and say it tried to make a compromise. The compromise may gain it some leverage in its next round of negotiations with those who would further regulate it. But, that is all the GMA plan is–an attempt to set a stake in the ground so that it is not buried.
Douglas A. McIntyre