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Volume 11, Number 6 - June 2010


Hello from Food Label News. We focus this issue on the controversy surrounding nutrition analysis – for both restaurant menus and packaged foods. We also cover a related question, one of our most common: the difference between lab analysis and database analysis. As your virtual food labeling department, we’re here to provide clarity and insight about topics that matter – and we love your feedback.

In this issue you'll find:

Karen C. Duester, President


"Really appreciate the very personalized service you've provided to help make the Fancy Food Show in New York a success
for us."

– Magdalena Reiter, 
Butterfly Limited


Controversy over Food Label Accuracy

Have you had enough of the drama and misinformation regarding nutrition facts panel accuracy? With headlines like "Food Labels Lie" and "The Shocking Truth about Food Labels" plastered all over the media, one might conclude that we are knowingly misleading consumers.

It all started with an article in Journal of The American Dietetic Association (JADA 2010; 110:116-123) that reported supermarket-purchased meals contained 8% more calories than stated and restaurant foods had 18% more. The authors noted that the variations were within FDA limits but could seriously hamper consumers’ efforts to control their weight.

While these finding were intended for professionals who can place the data in context, they resulted in a consumer media explosion – consumers want to understand if they can trust what's on food labels. The truth is there's inherent variability in both food nutrients and manufacturing processes that can produce different analytical results for the same product. For example, the same variety of apple or avocado or beef steak or chicken wing (single ingredient products produced by nature) can vary considerably depending on soil quality, diet of the animal, the weather, and several other growing conditions. Then, when you combine ingredients in manufacturing, there is additional complexity. As a result, FDA acknowledges this and allows for a 20% margin of error when no claims are made.

Keeping You Current

National Academies report calls for equal rigor in assessing food claims and drug approvals

White House Childhood Obesity Task Force releases action plan

FTC proposes to require info on marketing activities and expenditures for foods marketed to children

FDA seeks comments on the agency's transparency initiative

FDA seeks comments on information collection for infant formula manufacturing and labeling

Health Canada authorizes broader use of caffeine in carbonated soft drinks

Codex reports on work for international food labeling standards

Rest assured that your products' nutritional values are accurate if you have used a properly-prepared database analysis or systematically repeated lab analyses from multiple production runs. See Due Diligence article and Reader Q&A below for more explanation about analysis methods.

Dietary Guidance Statements on Food Labels
Instructional Series - Part 10 of 10

This month marks the final installment in our ten-part series and highlights the use of dietary guidance statements on food labels. This 10-part instructional series is based on a 2009 publication titled "Silliker Nutrient and Health Claims U.S. Regulatory Guide" that was cooperatively developed by Food Consulting Company and Silliker, Inc., a leading provider of laboratory nutrition analysis.

View/print Part 10 of the series.

The Silliker Nutrient and Health Claims U.S. Regulatory Guide summarizes key elements of claims and label statements allowed on U.S. food labels. You can find helpful discussion and unambiguous examples of what is valid and invalid throughout the Guide to help you prepare compliant food labels. View/print the entire Guide here.

Reader Q&A

Find answers to our readers' questions or send us your question for an upcoming issue.


Which is better for getting the most accurate results: lab or database analysis?
L.E., Food Marketer, California


When performed correctly, the database method is typically a better predictor of the nutritional analysis from multiple production runs than a single laboratory analysis. Read more.

At Your Service

Food Consulting Company, founded in 1993, provides nutrition analysis, food labeling and regulatory support to ensure 100% compliance with FDA regulations. With over 1,000 clients worldwide, Food Consulting Company's services are ideal for start-up and established food manufacturers, distributors, food importers, brokers, and restaurateurs. Contact Us for more information about your food labeling needs.

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