Food Marketing:

Frozen Pizza Cheese--Representative of Broader Food Labeling Issues

RCED-88-70: Published: Mar 31, 1988. Publicly Released: May 5, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) regulatory issues concerning the labelling of frozen pizzas whose toppings include a manufactured cheese analog; and (2) related concerns about food labelling issues.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Agriculture (USDA), unlike the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not require disclosure of cheese analog on frozen pizzas; (2) USDA withdrew its proposed labelling requirement for cheese analog because opponents successfully argued that it would be costly and unnecessary; (3) controversies concerning the nutritional value of cheese analog hindered attempts to require labelling; and (4) there are no common criteria for determining the relative nutritional values of manufactured and natural foods. GAO also found that: (1) federal labelling legislation and regulations have not kept pace with the increase in manufactured food products; (2) in 1986, the industry introduced about 3,400 new manufactured food products; (3) FDA believes that the nutritional standards developed years ago are too rigid; and (4) although labelling legislation could alleviate the controversy over cheese analog, it would not resolve underlying food labelling issues.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress enacted the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act in 1990 which superceded the recommendation.

    Matter: Congress may wish to bring together government, industry, and consumer interests in order to review and rewrite the basic authority for food information. Ways of doing so include establishing a congressional commission, recommending a presidential commission, or directing an interagency task force. As a preparatory step, Congress may wish to hold hearings to more fully determine the extent of current regulatory activity, agency structures that administer the regulatory process, industry and consumer responses to and reliance on the process, and agency activities or plans to improve the process.


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