A Critical Review of the Literature on Nutritional Labeling


  • The views expressed here are those of the authors and cannot be attributed to their employers or any government agencies. The authors thank Jeremy Kees for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


A comprehensive overview and critique of the nutrition labeling literature is provided. Studies examining the design and features of label formats and their impact on consumers being better informed and engaging in healthier behaviors are examined to summarize available knowledge in the field. The review suggests that while the extant literature has provided worthwhile critiques of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in terms of meeting its stated goals, as well as other general insights, it allows only for very tentative and conditional statements about factors related to the “bottom line” effectiveness of nutritional labeling. The outcome of the review suggests that a more holistic view of nutritional labeling is needed. Suggestions for future research that focus on both conceptualizations of the studies as well as methodology are made.