FDA cites labels for baby food, nuts, other products; Agency set to issue draft labeling guidelines soon
Foodfacts.com Blog staff has learned via Reuters news service that U.S. health regulators warned units of a leading food product company and more than a dozen other foodmakers about overstating or misstating the nutritional value of baby food, nuts and other products on their labels.
Most of the letters made public on Wednesday accuse the companies of making claims on their food packages and websites over trans fat content, antioxidant advantages, and omega-3 benefits that fail to Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
The warnings come as the FDA is set to push for new package labeling to make it easier for people to understand the nutritional content of food.
While Wednesday’s warnings are not indicative of labeling practices in the entire food industry, they should “give food manufacturers further clarification about what is expected of them as they review their current labeling,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in an open letter to the industry.
The FDA plans to issue draft guidelines for nutritional labeling and to work with the food industry on a new labeling system, she added.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, urged the FDA to crack down on manufacturers that “for far too long … have exaggerated the healthfulness of their products.”
New regulations should take a stronger stance on claims over trans fats and whole wheat as well as make the nutritional facts panel on the back of food packages easier to understand, the group said.
In a letter to a major baby food maker, the FDA cited issues with some of their products. It said their “labeling includes unauthorized nutrient content claims.”
The labels claim that the labeling on some of these food products have “No Added Sugar,” according to the letter dated Feb. 22. “These regulations do not allow the claim for products specifically intended for children under two years of age,” the FDA wrote.
An ice cream product unit was also warned over labeling of certain products.
One company spokesman said their company was cooperating with the FDA but does not comment on pending regulatory inquiries.
The FDA wants the companies to immediately correct the products’ labeling and respond to the agency within 15 days from the date of the letter. Most warning letters are resolved without further incident, although the agency does have the power to impose fines and other civil penalties.