FDA Eyeing Front-of-Package Nutrition Claims
The US Food and Drug Administra - tion (FDA) is going after misleading nutrition claims on the front of food packages—an effort that may ultimately lead to a single official symbol giving consumers an at-a-glance guide to healthy choices. As the agency sent a warning letter to food companies, Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the FDA will investigate whether any packaging claims violate its labeling rules and “will take enforcement action against any egregious examples.”
Speaking about the proliferation of nutrition claims on package fronts that don’t go into the detail of the Nutrition Facts panel on back, the FDA chief said, “Some nutritionists have questioned whether this information is more marketing-oriented than healthoriented, and judging from some of the labels that we have seen, we think this is a valid concern.”
The agency is developing possible regulations to define front-of-package claims on food products, Hamburg added. The effort might eventually lead to a US symbol system for nutrition guidance, perhaps similar to the voluntary “traffic light” labeling enacted in Britain in 2007. (See the May 2009 Special Supplement.) That labeling uses a green-yellow-red system to denote low, medium and high amounts of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.