• Labels To Contain Inaccurate Information: FDA’s Proposed Nutrition Facts Labels

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    Every day, millions of Americans use the Nutrition Facts labels on food packages to make healthy choices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed changes to make the labels even more useful. It’s an important move that could help curb the skyrocketing number of Americans with type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other weight-related conditions. “The current labels have had the effect of reducing the total fat intake in the American diet,” says Dr. Clifford Lo, an associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. When food makers take out fat — often healthy unsaturated fat — to improve the “total fat” number on the label, they tend to add in sugar and other rapidly digested carbohydrates.

    “As consumers and as parents, we have a right to understand what’s in the food we’re feeding our families because that’s really the only way that we can make informed choices – by having clear, accurate information.”  — FLOTUS Michelle Obama, Fourth anniversary celebration, Let’s Move! Campaign

    According to Food Safety News,

    Key aspects of FDA’s proposed changes include:

    • A greater emphasis — with larger and bolder type — on calories.
    • Listing an Added Sugars value: The food industry is likely to take issue with this aspect of the proposal. “They do not want consumers to know how much sugar they are adding, especially since so many health authorities are relating sugar intake to obesity.”
    • Calories from fat would no longer be listed. (But total, saturated and trans fat will still be required.)
    • Updated serving sizes that better reflect what people actually eat. Serving sizes are not a recommendation but simply a lens through which people …

    The proposed rules will be published to the Federal Register and a 90-day comment period opened. FDA plans to finish the final rule by 2015 and then give industry two years to put the new rules into effect.

    Readers, here will be your chance to facilitate positive and accurate changes on food labels. I encourage everyone concerned about factual, clear, accurate information to voice your opinions and suggestions as soon as the FDA opens the 90-day comment period.  

    FDA has been asked about the ability of organic foods to bear label statements to the effect that the food (or its ingredients) was not produced using biotechnology. On December 21, 2000, the Agriculture Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published final regulations on procedures for organic food production (National Organic Program final rule; 65 FR 80548). That final rule requires that all but the smallest organic operations be certified by a USDA accredited agent and lays out the requirements for organic food production. Among those requirements is that products or ingredients identified as organic must not be produced using biotechnology methods. The national organic standards would provide for adequate segregation of the food throughout distribution to assure that non-organic foods do not become mixed with organic foods. The agency believes that the practices and record keeping that substantiate the “certified organic” statement would be sufficient to substantiate a claim that a food was not produced using bioengineering.

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