Tuesday, March 9, 2010

FDA Changes Course on Food Labeling

(Food Safety News – Zach Mallove)

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released 17 warning letters to food manufacturers, accusing the companies of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act with false product labeling. The action follows an October 2009 "dear industry letter" from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg advising food companies to provide consumers with more accurate information on food packages. The immediate focus of the FDA’s action is on "front-of-pack" labels, or labels designed to grab consumers’ attention by making claims of health or nutrition on the front of food packages.

In conjunction with the FDA’s warnings, Hamburg published an open letter to the industry on March 3 questioning current labeling practices. Many label claims may not help consumers distinguish healthy food choices from less healthy ones, she said, and some claims are outright false or misleading. As a result, the FDA sent warning letters to 17 food manufacturers, following through on its promise to crack down on front-of-pack labeling. This marks the first time the agency has done so under President Barack Obama. Read more here.