July 1, 2016 |

Can Nutrition Labeling Companies Be Liable For Failing To Inform Their Pizza Clients About Proper Portioning?

By Denise Greer

portioningI recently waited in the waiting room of a hospital while a good friend had a long and complicated surgery. At one point, I decided to buy something to eat from the hospital cafeteria. One of my choices was pizza. The pizza was set out for self-service. They were charging $1.50 a slice. Plus, I saw a bonus. There was a huge slice available, which seemed to be a great value, compared to the smaller slice next to the bigger one.

Then I noticed a nutrition board next to the displayed pizza. At the bottom of the board was the food consulting company logo that formulated the nutritional information for the hospital’s pizza. The nutritional information included the total calories, fat grams, sodium, carbs and protein for 1 slice of pizza. The intent of the hospital by disclosing the nutritional content for their employees and visitors is commendable. I actually paid attention, which helped me make an informed decision. By advertising the nutritional information, a consumer, like myself, can make an informed
and healthier decision, right?

In this case, wrong. As the picture from this article shows, the portion for each slice were not even close to being similar in size and shape. It is also obvious from the picture, that none of the slices of pizza were remotely close to the advertised calories and nutrition content displayed on the nutrition board.

So what could happen if someone took a picture of a poorly cut pizza from a business that sells pizza, along with the advertised nutritional values and posted the picture on a social network, like facebook? Could the picture cause public embarrassment, ridicule and lack of credibility for that business? Could the business be sued for falsely advertising the nutritional values of the slices of pizza? What about the nutritional labeling company who may have not recommended to their client to use a pizza cutting guide to make sure the slices were cut equally? Since the nutrition labeling company is paid for formulating the calories for their clients. Plus, as in this case, being the same company printing the nutritional information poster board, could they be exposed to a liability lawsuit? Sounds ridiculous right? Over a couple of unequally cut slices of pizza?

Last month, Subway settled a class action lawsuit which they settled for over a half a million dollars (which does not include their legal expenses). All over some evidence that showed some of their advertised footlong sandwiches, measured slightly less. It’s not too farfetched to think something similar will happen to the pizza industry.

The new FDA menu labeling standards, originally set for December 1, 2016, has been changed to one year after the FDA finalizes its guidance. While companies affected by the law incorporate their menus for compliance, consumers will be exposed to greater nutritional awareness with quick service food items like pizza. So will their awareness with inaccuracies. Businesses who sell pizza and are required to comply will not only need to focus on the calorie content of their pizzas, they will need to concentrate with portioning the serving size much more accurately and equally. There are pizza cutting guides available for the pizza industry. Using a pizza cutting guide to more accurately and consistently cut equal pizza slices should greatly reduce the risk of a social networking nightmare and potential lawsuits, which could be financially devastating for any pizza related business.

NuVo Grand, LLC