Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hsieh Forbes Column: How Mandatory Calorie Labeling Hurts Consumers

My pre-Thanksgiving Forbes column is up, "How Mandatory Calorie Labeling Hurts Consumers".

I discuss the strict new FDA rules mandating calorie counts on all manner of foods sold in restaurants, stores, etc.

These new rules will be unprecedented in scope, as the Washington Post describes:
Chain restaurants, vending machines, grocery stores, coffee shops and pizza joints will soon have to display detailed calorie information on their menus under long-awaited rules to be issued Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The calorie-posting requirements extend to an array of foods that Americans consume in their daily lives: popcorn at the movie theater, muffins at a bakery, a deli sandwich, a milkshake at an ice cream shop, a drive-through cheeseburger, a hot dog at Costco or Target.
In particular, I discuss three problems with the new regulations:
1) It’s doubtful they will significantly change consumer behavior.
2) They create a significant economic burden on grocers.
3) They tilt the playing field away from fresher foods towards pre-packaged foods.
Given the federal government's poor track record in dispensing nutritional advice (e.g., promoting carbohydrates and demonizing fat), this merely reinforces a bad mindset towards food.

For more details, see the full text of "How Mandatory Calorie Labeling Hurts Consumers".

If the federal government wants a War On Bacon, I know what side I'm on.  And it's not the FDA's.