F.D.A. calls on food companies to correct labeling

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today issued an open letter to the food industry underscoring the importance of providing accurate nutrition information.

The move comes on the same day the F.D.A. notified 17 food manufacturers that the labeling for 22 of their food products violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Several of the products, including Mrs. Smith’s Coconut Custard Pie from Schwan’s Consumer Brands and Nestle Drumstick Classic Vanilla Fudge from Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, Inc., were called out for not disclosing the products have significant levels of saturated fat and total fat (while promoting no trans fat content on the front panel).

Other products, including Beech-nut Whole Grain Oatmeal with mixed fruit from Beech-nut, were reprimanded for making claims such as “low sodium” and “plus fiber” despite the fact such claims are not allowed on products intended for children under 2 years of age because appropriate dietary levels have not been established for children in this age range.

“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,” Dr. Hamburg wrote.

She said she hopes the warning letters clarify the F.D.A.’s expectations for food manufacturers as they review current labeling. Companies that received the warning letters have 15 business days to inform the F.D.A. of the steps they will take to correct their labeling.

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