Food Label News, Government Actions for Food Labels, FDA Regulations, Food Labels, Nutrition Labels
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Volume 8, Number 9 - September 2007


About Food Consulting Company

"Thank you for the outstanding job. Your professionalism is impressive.  We're a big company and I'll be contacting you for new products."

~ Carlos Ponz
American Rice

Greetings! If getting your new or newly formulated products labeled for compliance with FDA regulations means that you must spend hours reading FDA regulations, consider that Food Consulting Company can expertly handle the label work for you. Choose Full Label Compliance.

Q.  What is the legal definition for "trans fat free?" Can a restaurant or product make this claim?
J.P., Consultant, Massachusetts


A.  To date, FDA has not established a definition for "trans fat free." Therefore this claim cannot be made on food labels or on menus and menu boards, or in food marketing. Read more: Reader Q&A page.


Submit a question for Reader Q&A (no charge).

FDA Begins Public Look at Food Labels Symbols

On September 10 and 11, 2007, FDA is conducting a public hearing to gather information regarding the use of symbols on food labels. FDA is referring to the symbol programs that have been instituted by organizations such as health advocacy, food manufacturers, grocery stores, and trade groups to communicate nutrition information to consumers. A July 20, 2007, Federal Register notice describes the scope of the hearing. In part FDA's questions are:

  • What are consumers' attitudes toward nutrition symbols?

  • Do nutrition symbols direct consumers toward purchase of foods that bear symbols?

  • How do consumers interpret food label symbols in relation to the Nutrition Facts?

  • Do symbols on food labels affect the nutritional quality of a consumer's diet?

  • To what extent have products been developed/reformulated to qualify for a particular symbol?

Commentary: Food Label News, November 2006, reported on symbol programs offered by organizations to convey information about whole grain content to consumers. Under current regulations, labels can contain voluntary symbol information as long as the message is truthful and not misleading.

Food Labels Health Claims Get Attention

On July 9, 2007, FDA released "Guidance for Industry, Evidence-Based Review System for the Scientific Evaluation of Health Claims - Draft Guidance." The draft explains the evidence-based review system FDA intends to follow when evaluating the scientific evidence in petitions that are submitted for significant scientific agreement (SSA) health claims or qualified health claims. Health claims that meet the SSA standard are authorized by publication of a final rule or an interim final rule in the Federal Register. For health claims not meeting SSA criteria but supported by credible evidence (i.e., qualified health claims), FDA issues a letter regarding its intent to consider enforcement discretion.

Meanwhile, on August 2, 2007, the United States House of Representatives (House) passed the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R.3161). Included in this Act is the statement, "No funds in this Act may be used to authorize qualified health claims for conventional foods." The Center for Science in the Public Interest praised this action in an August 7, 2007, press release. Food Label News queried an FDA spokesperson about how FDA would act regarding qualified health claims if the House measure becomes law; the spokesperson responded, "As a matter of policy FDA generally does not comment on proposed legislation."

FDA Guidance - Helpful for Food Labels Work

Food labelers can benefit by periodically reviewing FDA's list of guidance documents. Guidance documents describe the Agency's current thinking on a policy or regulatory issue; they are intended to establish common understanding between and among stakeholders. FDA is required to issue guidance documents whenever regulatory expectations are not readily apparent in published regulations. Members of the public can suggest that FDA draft a new guidance document or revise or withdraw an existing guidance document.

See FDA's list of guidance documents.

Commentary: Food Consulting Company routinely cross references information from FDA guidance documents with other sources of regulatory information such as the Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register notices of final rules and various FDA web pages. Label Compliance Review is the service to choose to confirm that the labels you develop in-house are 100% FDA compliant; choose Full Label Compliance to have Food Consulting Company prepare labels that are 100% compliant for your products.

At Your Service: Calories on Menus/Menu Boards

It is likely that sooner or later, by law or public pressure, fast food and other chain restaurants will be forced to provide calorie information at point of purchase. Food Consulting Company can help get the job done.

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