The Food Industry and Self-Regulation: Standards to Promote Success and to Avoid Public Health Failures

7349 Words Apr 2nd, 2012 30 Pages

The Food Industry and Self-Regulation: Standards to Promote Success and to Avoid Public Health Failures
Lisa L. Sharma, MBA, MPH, Stephen P. Teret, JD, MPH, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD

Threatened by possible government regulation and critical public opinion, industries often undertake self-regulatory actions, issue statements of concern for public welfare, and assert that self-regulation is sufficient to protect the public. The food industry has made highly visible pledges to curtail children’s food marketing, sell fewer unhealthy products in schools, and label foods in responsible ways. Ceding regulation to industry carries opportunities but is highly risky. In some industries (e.g., tobacco), self-regulation
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These standards, listed in Table 1, are derived from knowledge to date on food industry self-regulation and lessons learned from self-regulatory successes and failures in other industries. These standards are intended to maximize the likelihood that self-regulation will incorporate transparency, meaningful objectives and benchmarks, accountability and objective evaluation, and oversight.

To date, food industry self-regulation has comprised 4 main initiatives: 1 addresses beverages and foods in schools, 2 pertain to marketing to children, and 1 deals with menu labeling.

Beverages in Schools
In 2006, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, worked with the soft drink industry through its trade association, the American Beverage Association, to release School Beverage Guidelines.15 The guidelines were developed by the alliance in collaboration with industry, most notably the top 3 players (CocaCola, PepsiCo, and Cadbury Schweppes) and

240 | Framing Health Matters | Peer Reviewed | Sharma et al.

American Journal of Public Health | February 2010, Vol 100, No. 2


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