| Comment Record|
Mrs. Denise Cazes ||
2003-03-24 22:57:00 |
University of Houston Clear Lake |
| Comments for FDA General |
1. General Comments
Randallís Grocery Store Corporation
RE: Deceptive Meat Labeling/Confusing Labels
March 20, 2003
I teach nutrition and health and fitness at the University of Houston Clear Lake and Texas A&M Galveston. I teach people what foods are necessary for health and weight management. I also teach them how to read a label to determine if the food they are interested in purchasing is a good choice and will meet their nutritional needs. One of the key principles I teach is that balance, variety and moderation are the guidelines for a healthy, satisfying diet. There are many choices available to us and even foods that are not the healthiest can be consumed occasionally. Knowing how to read a label allows consumers to decipher the nutritional information and make healthy choices most of the time as well as choose things that are not so healthy on occasion. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to decipher the labels which is why the FDA requires labels on most food products. Most food manufacturers provide fairly accurate information on their products labels but they need to be easier to understand. The percentage of calories from fat needs to be printed on the label no matter how high that value may be. The %DV is not necessary and only decieves/confuses the consumer.
Most importantly, the meat industry is building a reputation for deceptive labeling practices. It greatly disheartens me to go into a store like Randall's and find that you provide products for your customers that are practicing blatantly deceptive labeling. I recently went to purchase ground meat and was appalled to find that you offer meat from American Fresh Foods out of Ft. Worth Texas whose label is out and out lying to consumers and posing a serious health risk to some of them because of manipulation of information on their label. I found a package of ground beef that was labeled as 27% Fat not 73% lean as most packagers choose to use to get around this sticky subject. The percentage of fat kcals from total kcals in this meat was actually about 80% fat as it had 31 gm of fat and a total of about 350 kcals per serving. It is outrageous that they are allowed to manipulate the information this way and irresponsible of you to sell products that are mislabeled in your store. As I'm sure you know, the 27% fat refers to the weight of the fat in a total serving, not the percentage of total calories that are coming from fat. THIS is the information consumers want or need to know, not the weight of the fat. But who would buy this meat if they knew that it was really ~80% fat! Not many, which is why they misrepresent the nutritional information on their label so that the consumer will be duped and buy their product. The dollar is the bottom line after all.
Why is this a health concern to your customers? Well, awhile back I stood at the meat counter trying to decide on my purchase and listened as an elderly couple did the same. They discussed which choice would best fit their diet according to their doctor's recommendation that they consume foods that were <30% fat as one of them had recently had bypass surgery. They chose meat labeled 80% lean because they stated that this meant it was 20% fat and therefore met their criteria as set by their doctor. This is disheartening that your customers may be trying to make better choices for themselves but due to this deceptive practice are unwittingly putting their health in danger. This deceptive labeling must stop. I ask you to refrain from selling products that blatantly mis-label their products or require these companies to change their label to accurately reflect the nutritional status of their product. Healthier food choices can and should be available to the consumer. We should also know the nutritional value of a food without having to do the math ourselves. Labels should provide all the information about the nutritional content of a food.
Please do your part to help improve the health of our nation by providing your customers with accurate information or products that provide accurate information so that we can make the right choices.
Denise B. Cazes, M.S.
CC: American Fresh Foods
Center for Science in the Public Interest NIH