U.S. outlines plans for more health claims on food

July 15, 2003 in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition Topics in the News

U.S. outlines plans for more health claims on food
U.S. regulators unveiled guidelines last week that will allow food product labels to carry government-approved claims about health benefits, even if they have not been conclusively proven. The effort aims to get more health information to consumers quickly so they can improve eating habits, and to encourage manufacturers to make healthier products.

But the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a statement, \"Consumers don't want the federal government to authorize 'wishy-washy' health advice by food companies�. n the past, the FDA banned food producers from making health claims about products unless it decided they had been conclusively proven.

Under the new rules, language for \"qualified\" claims will vary depending on how much scientific support stands behind them. A panel of experts will evaluate proposed claims. The FDA will start reviewing petitions after Sept. 1. The FDA said it would consider claims in four categories with grades of A, B, C or D. An A means there is \"significant scientific agreement\" on the claim, while D means there is \"little scientific evidence supporting this claim.\"

The FDA will focus first on certain types of claims, including ones suggesting eating Omega-3 fatty acids, found in some fish, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Food manufacturers have pushed for years for more ability to advertise health benefits.

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