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March 4, 2010

FDA cracks down on misleading food labels

Dreyers Grand Ice Cream Inc., Gorton's Inc., POM Wonderful and Beechnut were some of the companies that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says use misleading labels.

The government's main food cop has sent letters to 17 companies telling them to correct the label violations on 22 products.

The companies have run afoul of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act with claims like the products prevent disease or are healthy when they don't meet the official definition or contain no trans fats when they are high in saturated fats.

In October 2009 the FDA encouraged the companies to review their labels to make sure they were truthful and not misleading. A letter that went to the companies yesterday basically said the FDA means it this time.

"Today, ready access to reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food is even more important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States,"  Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg said in the letter.

The companies have 15 business days to tell the FDA how they will correct their labels.

The FDA also plans to propose new rules about calorie and nutrient labeling on the front of food packages to make it easier for consumer to know which items are healthy. 

On the deceptive labels, the Center for Science in the Public Interest called the FDA's move the "largest crackdown on deceptive labeling in over a decade." But the group called for binding regulation for all companies. It released a report recently that found other misleading labels that so far have not been addressed.

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Diet and exercise, News roundup


Since health foods are in direct competition with the drug industry, one agency should not be regulating both. They are saying naturally anti cancerous fruits cannot be labeled as such, lest it be regulated like a drug. It's obvious the well funded D is bullying the F in FDA.

I feel that this change is essential and urgent. I suffer from high cholesterol, every time I grocery shop, I spend a lot of time and money purchasing foods that are suppose to be healthy according to their labels. trans fat, saturated fat,cholesterol,polyunsaturated, monounsatured and total fat????? What does it all mean?? Labels are deceiving and missleading on purpose, its all about sales and money, not health and conscious. Thank you for looking out for the consumer, its a long time coming.

I went to the FDA website to read the list of companies and reasons they were receiving letters. Among the delights to be found: juice for children under 2 can't be labeled 'no sugar added' because no dietary requirement for sugar has been established for children under 2. A certain brand of shortening is chastised for advertising 'no trans-fats' because it does have significant amounts of fat and saturated fat. NO DUH! It's shortening.

Meanwhile consider all the drugs and other products that get the FDA seal of approval and then promptly put consumers in the hospital, or even worse, the grave,

Kelly, Bisky & Patient in Waiting, Thank you for the post and comments. POM supports its scientific research and advocates honest labeling. We look forward to working with the FDA to resolve this matter.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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