Reexamining Food Labels: A Proposal for Labeling Environmental Information on Food Products

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Reexamining Food Labels: A Proposal for Labeling Environmental Information on Food Products

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Title: Reexamining Food Labels: A Proposal for Labeling Environmental Information on Food Products
Author: Guagliardo, Mara
Citation: Reexamining Food Labels: A Proposal for Labeling Environmental Information on Food Products (2001 Third Year Paper)
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Abstract: Since at least 1938, Congress has been concerned with informing the public as consumers about the food products they purchase. During 1938, Congress passed the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act which required that manufacturers of processed, packaged foods provide information on the labels including the name of the food, its ingredients, the net quantity, and the name and address of the manufacturer. In 1990, at the urging of the FDA, Congress added to this list of required information standard nutrition facts. It is time again to reassess the information that is required on food labels. Recent technology, such as genetic engineering, and recent health scares, such as mad cow's disease, require a reexamination of what information is provided to the public about the food they eat. Even without food scares, consumers have an underlying right-to-know about the true ingredients in their food products. Consumers, as citizens, also have a right to know more about food production methods, so that they can vote with their dollars for the businesses who produce their food in ways that accord with their environmental or ethical values. Environmental labeling requirements may also promote fair competition between producers, as all producers will be asked to provide uniform labeling. Producers will no longer be able to hide the negative aspects of their food production methods that are required to be disclosed under this labeling proposal. In the end, these labeling requirements may help meet the social objective of improving food production practices and the environment. This paper has sought to propose the types of information that should be required on the food label. At a minimum, consumers should be told whether their food product was genetically modified, whether the food contains environmental or chemical contaminants, and how the food was produced. While more research would need to be completed to ensure that the food label was accurate, complete, and comprehensible, this paper has attempted to present one potential framework for such a label. Hopefully in the near future, consumers may be able to benefit from an increased transparency on their grocer's shelves.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8965567

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