FDA Warns Manufacturers Using Misleading Claims

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is notifying a number of food manufacturers whose labels contain false or misleading claims, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in an open letter to the industry Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is notifying a number of food manufacturers whose labels contain false or misleading claims, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg [2] said in an open letter to the industry Wednesday.

Among those notified are companies making nutrition claims authorized for use with adults, but not for infants and young children under 2; misleading “healthy” claims that don’t meet well-established definitions for use of the term; trans fat-free claims that lead consumers to believe the product is a healthy choice when it is also high in saturated fat; and juice blends presented as consisting entirely of a single juice.

“These examples and others that are cited in our warning letters are not indiciative of the labeling practices of the food industry as a whole,” said Hamburg in her letter. “In my conversations with industry leaders, I sense a strong desire within the industry for a level playing field and a commitment to producing safe, healthy products.”

The FDA will soon issue new draft guidance for front-of-pack calorie and nutrient labeling and recommendations for nutritional criteria for foods that make dietary guidance statements such as “eat two cups of fruit a day for good health.”

“We intend to work closely with food manufacturers, retailers and others in the design process, and I hope that every food processor will contribute its views on how we can do this in the best way possible,” Hamburg said.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is already on board. "GMA agrees with and supports federal laws requiring food labels to be truthful and non-misleading," it said in a statement. "GMA and its member companies support, and are working with, the FDA to enhance our ability to convey nutrition information clearly and consistently to consumers.”

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