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EU - Healthier Food Choices: From Consumer Information to Consumer Empowerment in EU Law

European Union

Apr 17, 2024

This article evaluates the European Union’s efforts to regulate consumer food information with the aim of improving consumer nutrition as part of its broader consumer protection agenda. With nearly a million deaths attributed to unhealthy diets annually, the EU’s New Consumer Agenda, its Farm to Fork Strategy, and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan all highlight the objective of empowering consumers to make informed, healthy food choices. This underscores the EU’s longstanding emphasis on regulating information to protect consumers, an approach which is even stronger with nutrition more specifically. This article shows that the EU food information law is based on two beliefs. First, consumers are given food information that is sufficient, accurate, non-misleading, clear and easy to understand and they are, therefore, well-informed. Second, well-informed consumers are empowered. This article argues that both of these beliefs are misguided. The current food information rules do not truly inform consumers well and do not, on their own, empower consumers to make healthy dietary decisions. Consequently, this article expresses scepticism about the ability of the current rules to promote improved nutrition. In light of the critiques of the current rules, this article offers suggestions for an improved food information paradigm. In addition to rules that would more effectively inform consumers, such a paradigm would acknowledge the limitations of information to empower healthier food choices and, therefore, give greater weight to more substantive interventions. This would align food law with broader trends in consumer protection law and thereby genuinely promote healthier nutrition.


Author(s):  Gokani, N.

Published in: J Consum Policy

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