THE FDA’S “LOST PLEASURE” INDEX AND WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT YOU

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

What are the economic costs for the loss of pleasure? For example, what do you lose in economic terms when you choose that healthy apple over the less healthy sugar cookie? Who knows? Apparently, the federal government believes it knows. Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published its final rules on labeling requirements for restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machines. Essentially, these new regulations will require nutrition labeling on restaurant menus and in other similar food vending establishments to increase consumer awareness and information of food choices. An overview of these FDA final rules is here.

However, Reuters recently broke the news that tucked away in these new FDA regulations is a “Lost Pleasure” analysis to determine the “loss of pleasure” when consumers choose healthy foods over less health foods. According to Reuters, the inclusion of such an analysis may be intended to make the regulations vulnerable to legal challenges. How? A new cost factor (e.g. the loss of pleasure) is being introduced as “legitimate” evidence to weigh the pros and cons of the labeling regulations. Thus, opponents of nutrition labeling requirements will argue that the loss of pleasure in economic terms is too great to justify some or all of the nutrition labeling requirements. If this is true, it is a pretty clever legal strategy. Hopefully, it’s too clever of a legal strategy when the new regulations come under judicial review.

Mature man eating chocolate

Obviously, a “Lost Pleasure” analysis is fraught with problems. For example, some people choose healthier food over less healthy food and derive great pleasure from those choices. How the federal government can put an economic value on something as subjective as the so-called “loss of pleasure” in food choices seems absurd. Yet, according to Reuters, U.S. health regulators estimate that consumers will suffer up to $5.27 billion in “lost pleasure” over 20 years when calorie counts on restaurant menus discourage people from ordering french fries, brownies, and other high-calorie favorites.

The Reuters story is a quick and easy read. It can be found here.

Here’s hoping that you get great pleasure from making healthy food choices in your life. That is priceless.

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com

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