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Abstract

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) prohibits health claims for foods containing more than a certain amount of fat per serving. This disqualifier level eliminates health claims for cooking oils since these products have approximately 14 grams of fat per serving, above the acceptable threshold. However, a number of scientific studies indicate that, from a heart-health perspective, cooking oils lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fats are superior to other oils. Prior to the NLEA, firms actively competed on this basis, with manufacturers of cooking oils making explicit heart-health claims in print advertising and labeling. This study utilizes supermarket scanner data from twenty stores to examine the type of cooking oil chosen by consumers. The results indicate that after implementation of the NLEA, consumers shifted purchases toward cooking oils higher in saturated fat and lower in monounsaturated fat. This study does not address whether consumers changed their total consumption of cooking oil after implementation of the NLEA.

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