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Volume 9, Number 9 - September 2008


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Q.  In the August Q&A you said high fructose corn syrup should be labeled as glucose-fructose syrup in Canada. Can I also label it as glucose-fructose syrup on my U.S. labels for the same product?      T.C., Beverage Manufacturer, Texas


A.  No, the required nomenclature for this ingredient for U.S. regulated food labels is high fructose corn syrup. Read more.

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

FDA Studies Food Labels Allergen Advisory Use

In an August 8, 2008, Federal Register notice FDA announces a public hearing to be held September 16, 2008, on the use of food allergen advisory labeling. Advisory labeling refers to a label statement such as "manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts.'’

FDA intends to develop a long-term strategy to assist manufacturers in using allergen advisory labeling that provides clear, uniform, and accurate information about the potential presence of food allergens. Through its own consumer research and review of published consumer research FDA has so far found:

  • use of advisory label statements is not uniform

  • consumers have a range of understanding and behavior with regard to advisory
    labeling in use now

  • some foods that contain advisory labeling have been shown to contain detectable
    residues of food allergens

Both industry and consumers are asked to comment on specific issues and questions that are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Commentary: Current food allergen labeling regulations do not address the use of advisory labeling. However FDA’s Questions and Answers Regarding Food Allergens states that all food labeling, including advisory labeling, must be truthful and not misleading. For help with allergen labeling and advisory labeling, see Services.

"Organic" on Food Labels Limited to Foods Certified

In response to recent inquiries to Food Consulting Company regarding the use of "organic” on food labels, the nutrition labeling company reminds that agricultural products that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic for sale in the U.S. must be processed in accordance with National Organic Program (NOP) standards. The NOP standards state that operations that grow and process agricultural products and represent them as organic must be certified by USDA-accredited certifying agents; the only exception is for very small operations, e.g., $5000 or less gross income from organic sales.

See NOP website.

Commentary: "Organic" and "Natural" are two label claims that appeal to a segment of consumers. While standards for organic labeling are clearly defined and restrictive, the use of the term natural on labels is less restrictive. Food Consulting Company can help labelers select label claims that maximize product position in the market and keep the label compliant with label regulations. See Food Label News June 2008 for more on using "Natural" on labels.

Pressure On for Labeling Restaurant Foods

In August 2008, the consumer advocacy group Center Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released results from an investigation into the nutritional quality of kids’ meals at top restaurant chains. The investigation focused on calories provided in kids' meal combinations. Of 1,474 possible menu item combinations calculated for calories, 93% exceeded 430 calories, the amount that is one-third of what the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that sedentary children aged four through eight should consume in a day; some combinations exceeded this amount by two and three times.

Posting calories on menus is one of CSPI’s public policy initiatives. The group's website promotes activating state and local governments to establish mandatory labeling and frequently issues press releases regarding legislative activity.

FDA has not identified mandatory nutrition labeling for restaurant foods as a priority nor has it proposed rules. However, through its Obesity Working Group/Keystone Forum on Away-From-Home Foods, the Agency has studied and given advice on steps restaurants should take to help reduce the country's overweight and obesity rate.

Read Keystone report.

Read CSPI press release.

Commentary: Food Consulting Company believes it is likely state and local governments will increasingly require calorie and nutrition labeling for restaurant foods and that CSPI and other consumer groups will continue to exert pressure for this. With this in mind and for consumer goodwill, Food Consulting Company encourages restaurants to voluntarily initiate calorie/nutrition labeling. Food Consulting Company provides nutritional analysis for restaurant menu items and can assist in identifying menu item combinations that will appeal to consumers for calorie and nutrient content. Contact us to discuss your needs.

At Your Service:  Since June 2006, Food Label News has provided 27 free answers to questions submitted by readers (such as the high fructose corn syrup question above); see Reader Q&A page. Submit your question for consideration in an upcoming issue. The top three questions during 2008 (in terms of value and broad appeal to Food Label News readers) will be acknowledged with a $25 thank you check to the submitters in January 2009.

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