The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it recently sent warning letters regarding labeling issues to 17 food companies. FDA also released a letter to the food industry urging all companies to adhere to current regulations on trans fat claims, labeling of foods for children and health claims. In this letter, FDA announced plans to release draft guidance on the use of dietary statements, such as "3-A-Day of Dairy."
"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," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in her letter to industry. "That reinforces my belief that FDA should provide as clear and consistent guidance as possible about food labeling claims and nutrition information in general, and specifically about how the growing use of front-of-pack calorie and nutrient information can best help consumers construct healthy diets."
According to the warning letters, FDA considers a label statement such as "0 g trans fat" to be a nutrient content claim. These claims may need to be accompanied by a disclosure statement, such as "see side panel for fat content," if the labeled product is high in fat, saturated fat, sodium or cholesterol.
FDA cautioned some companies to make only approved health claims for foods and to avoid using claims that purport to "treat, prevent or cure disease," which are reserved for drug labels. Juice manufacturers were warned that juice products containing a blend of juices or other ingredients must be clearly labeled as such.
The agency also discussed products for children under the age of two, which must be labeled appropriately for the age group and may include only a few specific nutrient content claims. Additionally, products that are branded, trademarked or labeled with the term "healthy" must meet the definition for the healthy claim.
IDFA urges all members to review the letters and consider whether any changes may be necessary on their labels.
Members with questions may contact Michelle Matto, assistant director for nutrition and regulatory affairs, at (202) 220-3523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.