The Guideline Daily Amount Label: Guidance or Deception

Jakob Johnsen

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


The use of nutrition labels are harmonized throughout the European Union and compulsory if a nutrition claim appears on the package. The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive gives a uniform view of unfair commercial practice, by replacing member states’ existing general clauses in the area, thus providing a single European reference point to witch commercial practices are allowed and which are not. The practice is considered misleading if it contains false information, is likely to deceive the average consumer or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision that he would otherwise not have taken. Today the front-of-pack GDA scheme includes; energy, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars and salt. The GDA label refers to the optimal intake of a moderately active woman of forty, though not uniformly. The GDA label belongs to the category of descriptive labels. It takes on average 10 seconds longer to decipher the GDA label than the simpler normative labels. Most criticism of the GDA label revolves around the lack of minimum, average and maximum values, the one adult figure and the changing or unrealistic portion sizes. All these points of criticism were supported by the focus group interview. I have deemed these three properties of the GDA label likely to deceive the average consumer. The focus group interview yielded interesting insight into the difficulty of decoding the GDA label. By making a comparative analysis of the GDA label and the hybrid traffic light label, I assessed positive and negative properties of the two labels. The positive and negative properties of the two labels formed the basis for my later recommendations for changes to the GDA label. The GDA label as we know it today carries the potential to mislead the average consumer. Changing portion sizes and the reference person are at the core of the GDA label’s design and at the same time the main source of deception. My advice is to retire the portion size and instead use a calculation based on per-100g servings. It is also my advice to retire the moderately active adult woman from the label, since her presence lowers the usefulness of the label and adds to the complexity. Lastly I recommend that colors accompanied by the words low, medium and high are added to the label. This will in turn make the label easier to decode at a glance.

UddannelserCand.merc.ib International Business, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
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