Going After Food Packaging

Going After Food Packaging

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Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration called out food companies for misleading nutrition labeling. Seventeen companies received a letter on their health claims, including baby-food makers Gerber and Beech-Nut and fruit juice purveyor POM Wonderful. The FDA also targeted companies that claimed their foodstuffs had no trans. fat even though these products were high in saturated fat. From the New York Times:

“The F.D.A. is not merely firing a shot across the bow; it is declaring war on misleading food labeling,” said Bruce A. Silverglade, director of legal affairs of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that had pushed for stricter rules.

Front-of-package health claims made on packaged foods have been the target of healthy-food advocates for some time. And the FDA’s director, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, said preventing misleading labeling was especially important now with the rising incidence of obesity.

The labeling problem also underscores a flaw in the way many think about health problems. People don’t just eat foods they know are bad; they eat foods they think are healthy but are not. Plenty of companies market foods as healthy because they lack or contain one ingredient or two, while the sum total of all its ingredients is not. And the nutrition labels are often confusing. A report from Silvergrade’s group, for example, shows a cake label that separates all the sources of sugar — like refined sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup — so that it looks like flour is the most prominent ingredient, not sugar. Groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and nutritionists and writers like Marion Nestle argue that the FDA and the USDA could take a stronger stance in making sure the public is properly informed about food products. And they cheered at this move in the right direction.

Source: www.prospect.org

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