CFSAN News for Educators

CFSAN News for Educators

January/February 2015: New Year, New Programs!

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Upcoming Events

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference
March 12 – 15, 2015
Chicago, IL

National Hispanic Medical Association
March 25 – 29, 2015
Washington, DC

Food Safety Summit
April 8 – 10, 2015
Baltimore, MD

National Food Policy Conference
April 21 – 22, 2015
Washington, DC

Dr. Susan T. Mayne became the new CFSAN Center Director in January 2015. Learn about her here.

New Year, New Programs!

Welcome to CFSAN’s News for Educators – the at-a-glance bi-monthly e-news from FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). This edition announces CFSAN’s latest-and-greatest initiatives, including the updated Science and Our Food Supply and the Final Rule on Menu Labeling, plus a timely look at soaps and lotions during the season of “winter skin.” Don’t miss the current list of upcoming meetings and announcements from FDA! 

We encourage you to share this newsletter. Invite your colleagues to sign up for future issues!

Food Safety

Science and Our Food Supply

Science and our food supply coverFDA is delighted to announce the 2014 update to its innovative, classroom-tested curriculum: Science and Our Food Supply. The program represents a long-term partnership between FDA and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) -- the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to the teaching of science. The public health program was launched in 1999 to reach teens, many of whom will work in a foodservice entry-level job, as they become independent food prepares for themselves and others. Teens learn food safety through a science lens focused on important topics, such as how bacteria grow at different temperatures and why it’s important to refrigerate foods and cook them to proper temperatures. Customized to middle level and high school classrooms, it teaches important science concepts using the timely topic of food safety. Here are quick highlights:

  • Educators can engage students with integrated, inquiry-based activities and labs that include real-time, relevant, and hands-on science. Integrated program extensions, technology links, and “career connections” extend the learnings even further.

  • Downloadable components (all available FREE) include two teacher’s guides, the Emmy-winning Dr. X and The Quest for Food Safety video, food/technology career profiles, and the popular Food Safety A to Z Guide –  an extremely useful in-class resource with current food safety issues and the latest trends in microbiology and science.

  • Using a successful Train-the-Trainer model, FDA and NSTA conduct an annual week-long training at FDA’s College Park, MD facility. The “Professional Development Program in Food Science” is designed to better prepare teachers in the use of the curriculum materials to maximize the learning opportunities for their students.

Online Resources: Educators can download the hot-off-the-presses curriculum or apply for the in-person curriculum training and see other workshops and support opportunitiesdisclaimer icon. Please share this news with your education colleagues, too!


New Menu and Vending Machine Labeling

Menu CaloriesIn today’s busy world, Americans are eating and drinking about one-third of their calories away from home. While consumers can find calories and other nutrition information on the Nutrition Facts Label on most packaged foods and beverages they buy in stores, this type of labeling has generally not been available in restaurants or visible on food from vending machines. That’s why FDA published new regulations in December of 2014, requiring that calorie information be provided on restaurant menus, menu boards and vending machines. This will enable consumers to make informed and healthful decisions about meals, snacks and beverages – so update your constituents on these new regulations!


  • In the next year, consumers will begin to see calories listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants (with 20 or more locations) next to the name or price of the item.
    • For self-service foods, such as foods served from buffets and salad bars, calories will be shown on signs that are next to the foods.
    • Calories will not be listed for condiments, daily specials, custom orders, or temporary/seasonal menu items.
  • Consumers can also find additional written nutrition information on standard menu items, including total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein.  This information may be found on posters, tray liners, signs, counter cards, handouts, booklets, computers or kiosks. Remind consumers to ask for it when eating out!
  • FDA is also requiring restaurants to include a statement on menus and menu boards reminding consumers that “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” Not everyone should consume 2,000 calories per day, though, so encourage consumers to visit disclaimer iconto determine personal calorie needs.

Vending Machines:

  • Over the next two years, calories will also begin to be shown on vending machines (for those who own or operate 20 or more vending machines). Consumers will see it posted on a sign or on electronic/digital displays near the food item or selection button, unless calories are already visible on the actual food packages before purchase.

Online Resource:  Learn more about the new Menu and Vending Machine Labeling regulations and download a new Consumer Fact Sheet that includes tips for using the new calorie information, as well as details about which types of foods and which establishments are required to post calorie information. 


For Winter Skin: Cleansers, Lotions, and Soaps

Lotions and CleansersWinter weather, heated homes, and dry, itchy skin often seem to come as a package deal. During the cold mid-winter months, many consumers will be looking for products to help keep chapped skin soft and smooth. Product safety is always important – so who, exactly, regulates these types of products? In fact, lotions, soaps, and other cleansers may be regulated as cosmetics or as other product categories, depending on how they are intended to be used. Here’s basic information to share with consumers about who regulates which products, and how these products are differentiated:

  • Cleansing products, many of which are marketed as “soap,” may be cosmetics or drugs (and thus regulated by FDA), or may be consumer products and regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It all depends on how they are made and how they are intended to be used.

    For example, soaps and cleansers marketed as “antibacterial” are drugs. Soaps that contain synthetic detergents or are intended for a cosmetic purpose, such as moisturizing, deodorizing, or perfuming the skin, are regulated as cosmetics. The CPSC regulates the few soaps that don’t meet these criteria, as well as all household cleansers that are not used for cleansing of people (such as laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, etc.).

  • Lotions intended to make people more attractive are cosmetics. But, if they’re intended to affect the structure or function of the body (or for a therapeutic purpose, such as treating or preventing disease), they are considered drugs. For example, sunscreen products are drugs under U.S. law, as are skin protectants, skin bleaches, and treatments for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or rosacea. While moisturizers are generally regulated as cosmetics, if a product is intended for uses such as treating diaper rash, or chapped skin or lips, it’s a skin protectant, so it’s a drug. Creams and ointments intended to treat infections are also drugs.

  • In some cases, a product may be both a cosmetic and a drug, and must meet the requirements for both categories. For example: A lotion that is intended both to moisturize the skin and protect users from the sun would be a cosmetic and a drug.  

Even though drugs and cosmetics are both regulated by FDA, the law treats them differently. For example, cosmetics must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label or in the customary way. But cosmetics don’t need FDA approval before they go on the market; cosmetic companies are legally responsible for making sure their products are safe. Drugs must be approved by FDA as safe and effective before they go on the market. 

Online Resources: Encourage consumers to learn more about the differences among products by visiting “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?).” FDA also offers detailed information on a variety of soap and lotion ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids, fragrance, parabens, and more. Learn more about the different types of products and ingredients here.

For More Information

Social Media Connections

  • Follow us on Twitter! Get current information and breaking news on food safety, food recalls, nutritional, dietary supplements and food additives from FDA fooddisclaimer icon; and, keep apprised of cosmetics updates and recalls from FDA cosmeticsdisclaimer icon.
  • Join us on Pinterest! See the many resources available from FDAdisclaimer icon, and watch for new boards and pins, too!
  • Like us on Facebook. See FDA’s agency postsdisclaimer icon and join the conversation. 

Page Last Updated: 02/20/2015
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