9, Number 11 - November 2008
IN THIS ISSUE:
This month marks the beginning of our sixteenth
year of serving the food industry with food
labeling help and our ninth year of publication
and free distribution of Food Label News. The
newsletter reports on issues that affect food
labeling and each month a reader question is
Q. I would
like to know how many new labeling regulations
will be in effect on the January 1, 2010,
uniform compliance date.
K.T., Established Food Company, California
established January 1, 2010, as the uniform
compliance date for food labeling regulations
that are issued between January 1, 2007, and
December 31, 2008.
Submit a question
for Reader Q&A (no charge).
GAO Report: No Assurance Food Labels Comply
On October 9, 2008, the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) released a report
saying that FDA’s oversight and enforcement
efforts for food labels have not kept pace with
the growing number of food firms; consequently
FDA cannot assure that companies comply with
food labeling regulations for preventing false
or misleading labeling.
The report titled "FDA Needs to Better Leverage
Resources, Improve Oversight, and Effectively
Use Available Data to Help Consumers Select
Healthy Foods" satisfies a request from a House
of Representatives committee on appropriations.
FDA’s efforts to ensure that foods comply
with labeling rules
the challenges FDA faces in these efforts
views of key stakeholders on FDA actions
needed to mitigate misleading labeling
The report presents shortcomings in FDA’s
procedures to assure food labels are in
compliance with regulations. FDA attributes
shortcomings to limited resources and
authorities. The Agency agrees with some GAO
recommendations, provides comment only on some,
and leaves others unaddressed.
Commentary: Food Label News has
often reported that consumer and health advocacy
groups police labels; the groups petition FDA to
increase enforcement activity and impose
additional regulation when non-compliant or
questionable label practices are discovered.
Food Consulting Company believes that food
labelers own the responsibility of labeling
their company's foods so that they are in
compliance with regulations.
GAO Report: Stakeholder Suggestions for Food
The GAO food labels report includes six
suggestions from stakeholders that can help
consumers make healthier food choices. FDA had
already addressed or begun work on each
suggestion and this has been reported in Food
Label News. The suggestions and links to the
latest related Food Label News articles are:
implement uniform front-of-package symbol to
help select healthier foods,
eliminate qualified health claims,
establish criteria for characterizing the
amount of whole grains in food,
prohibit "trans fat free" labeling on foods that contain substantial
amounts of saturated fat,
require labels of foods commonly consumed in
one sitting to show calories, etc. per
clarify the definition of natural as it
applies to food,
Commentary: Before label changes
are required, FDA would follow steps for
regulatory change beginning with proposed rule,
comment period, and final rule -- or publish
additional industry guidance.
GAO Report: FDA on Stakeholder Suggestions
In the GAO report, FDA comments on two of the
six stakeholder suggestions. Food Label News
reported on both issues earlier this year and
the FDA comments serve as an update to those
Regarding implementation of a uniform
front-of-package symbol to help consumers select
healthier foods, FDA’s Center for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition is currently conducting a
series of studies on consumer reactions and
decision making when front-of-package symbols
are used. (Page 69,
Regarding elimination of qualified health
claims, FDA comments that court decisions hold
that the First Amendment precludes FDA from
outright prohibition of the use of these claims.
GAO acknowledged this position. (Page 71,
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