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A Look at the Effectiveness of Menu Labeling
Rui Zhang, Transparency Policy Project research assistant, takes and in-depth look at menu labeling. She finds that labeling induces restaurants to add healthier options, but the impact on consumers' choices is less clear. Some studies indicate a moderate effect in curbing the number of calories purchased, others find limited or no effect. Zhang also discusses ways to make menu labeling more effective, such as using exercise-equivalent labels or using colors like green, yellow and red to distinguish low and high calorie foods. Read her Harvard Ash Center's Challenges to Democracy blog post.
Our Testimony on OSHA's Injuries and Illnesses Transparency Rule
In May, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule requiring workplaces with more than 250 employees and smaller establishments in high-risk industries to electronically report injuries and illnesses to OSHA. Some of the data will be shared with the public on OSHA's website to trigger safety improvements and inform workers, administrators and the general public. Elena Fagotto, TPP's Director of Research, submitted a written testimony to the House's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing discussing the rule's impact on workers and employers. The testimony explains how shedding light on injuries and illnesses could make American workplaces safer by stimulating competition and mutual learning within the industry and by helping OSHA target its resources. Read the testimony
Transparency for Safer Workplaces
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) bets on transparency to improve workplace safety. OSHA has issued a final rule requiring certain employers in risky industries to electronically submit injury and illness data. Employers are already collecting this information, but OSHA will now make some of it publicly available in an effort to encourage employers to make workplaces safer. OSHA believes that transparency will trigger a race to the top among employers to compete on safety. OSHA will use the data to target its enforcement resources and improve compliance. But also workers, job seekers, customers, journalists, and the general public will be able to use the information to evaluate workplace safety. The new information will allow researchers to identify emerging risks and trends in risk reduction in the industry. The rule also contains anti-retaliation protections and prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, commented: "Our new rule will nudge employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.” The new rule becomes effective January 1, 2017 and the reporting requirements will be phased in over two years. Read a fact sheet on the rule. Read the rule.
Health Affairs Focuses on Food and Health
In its November 2015 special issue
, Health Affairs focuses on the complex relationship between food and health. The articles in the issue examine the public's understanding of the impact of dietary choices on health and discuss several policy options introduced to improve Americans' diets, including menu labeling. Research on menu labeling points to a reduction in calories of menu items at restaurants displaying calorie information, but questions the impact of labeling on the dietary choices of restaurant goers.
Access Our Webinar on Transparency
On September 30th, 2015 we held a webinar titled "Information as a Tool for Regulation, How Can Transparency Work for You" for the Open Government Partnership. We would like to thank all the participants for their questions and the World Bank Group Open Learning Campus for organizing the webinar. We also thank Dr. Ben Worthy
of Birbeck College, University of London, for acting as a thoughtful discussant. In case you missed it, you can see and hear our presentation here
Too Much Information, Making Transparency Good for You
In our recent Boston Review essay we assess the latest developments in transparency systems in the US. From menu labeling to credit card transparency, we discuss how certain features, like providing information in meaningful formats, and giving consumers choice among options can increase the impact of transparency. Building on the current debate on transparency, we conclude that transparency is less simple that it appears, and that behind an aura of openness, powerful interests continue to lobby intensely against disclosure. Read the essay here