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Global Governance of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling: A Qualitative Analysis

Thow, Anne Marie, Jones, Alexandra, Schneider, Carmen Huckel, Labonté, Ronald
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.2
Codex Alimentarius, advocacy, decision making, governance, health policy, interviews, nutrition labeling, nutrition risk assessment, qualitative analysis, trade
The Codex Alimentarius has approved ongoing work for international guidance on front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition labelling, which is a core intervention for prevention of diet-related noncommunicable disease. This guidance will have implications for national policy decision-making regarding this important public health issue. However, FoP nutrition labelling is also a trade and commerce policy issue. In this study, we analyze the global governance of FoP nutrition labelling and current policy processes, to inform public health policy and advocacy. We present findings from a qualitative governance and institutional analysis, based on key informant interviews with 28 global actors. The study found that Codex guidance was perceived as likely to have a high impact on FoP nutrition labelling globally. However, a small and highly interconnected “regime complex” of international institutions surrounds FoP nutrition labelling at the global level, and influence on Codex discussions is being exerted differentially by actors at the national and global level, particularly by government and industry actors. There are thus risks associated with conflicts of interests in the development of global guidance on FoP nutrition labelling. There are also opportunities for more strategic and coordinated public health engagement.