Outgoing Bush Administration Issues Last-Minute Reg on Iffy Health Claims on Foods


January 15, 2009

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest objected today to a "midnight" attempt by the outgoing Bush Administration to institutionalize a Food and Drug Administration practice permitting so-called "qualified health claims" on food labels. Such claims can be based on flimsy scientific evidence. The FDA first began permitting them on food labels in 2002. Prior to the Bush years, such claims were only allowed on dietary supplements. An example of these claims would be,"Very limited and preliminary scientific research suggests that eating one-half to one cup of tomatoes and/or tomato sauce a week may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. FDA requires that the claim be followed by the statement, "The FDA concludes that there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim."

Congress urged the FDA in last years appropriations bill to end the labeling policy for foods until a report from the Government Accountability Office on the issue was completed.

"Fortunately, the FDA action today is in the form of a 'Guidance' document that can, and should be immediately rescinded by the next FDA Commissioner," stated Bruce Silverglade. "FDA's own surveys show that consumers are misled by qualified health claims."

 

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