The FDA and the Bush Administration finally came to terms with the fact that the American consumer needs to know, definitively, what is in the food products he or she buys. The result was the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. "(This Act)
provides FDA with specific authority to require nutrition labeling of most foods regulated by the Agency; and to require that all nutrient content claims (i.e., 'high fiber', 'low fat', etc.) and health claims be consistent with agency regulations" ("Guide for Review" para. 1). The specific law passed in 1990 refers specifically to packaged foods. Therefore, restaurant foods, meats, poultry, and egg products were exempt.
However what the medical establishment, especially those involved in reducing illness and death due to heart disease, finds important in this law is that "requires the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards and definitions for food descriptors such as 'low,' 'lean,' 'lite,' 'reduced,' etc."
The importance of this labeling law goes beyond looking out for the consumers' health. It prevents deceptive marketing and therefore makes quite clear what products can be labeled as having reduced calories, fat, sugar, etc. In addition, this law now requires the manufacturer to label the serving sizes. Therefore, if a consumer reads X calories that calorie amount has to be broken down into servings, otherwise there may well be a misapprehension that the calorie is for the total contents of the package. It is vital to assess the impact of this 1990 law because, as will be demonstrated, consumer confidence in label accuracy was enhanced: "According to an FDA study, consumer confidence in health claims grew in the months following implementation of NLEA. Thirty-one percent of consumers contacted by phone in November 1995--17 months after implementation of NLEA--said they believed health claims were accurate, compared with 25 p