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  1. Food Labeling & Nutrition

Front-of-Package Labeling Initiative

Under the leadership of Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg, M.D., reliable nutrition labeling of food products is a top priority for the Food and Drug Administration. In a statement issued October 2009, Dr. Hamburg encouraged food companies to review their labeling to ensure that they were in compliance with FDA regulations. In addition, FDA soon will propose guidance for the industry regarding nutrition labeling on the front of food packages, and plans to work collaboratively with the food industry to design and implement innovative approaches to front-of-package labeling that can help consumers choose healthy diets.

Continuing this initiative, Dr. Hamburg today issued an open letter to industry on the importance of accurate nutrition labeling of food products, and, the agency issued Warning Letters to 17 manufacturers informing the firms that the labeling for 22 of their food products violate provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that require labels to be truthful and not misleading.

“Today, ready access to reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food is even more important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States,” Dr. Hamburg said in the letter to industry. She also expressed her hope that the Warning Letters would clarify the FDA’s expectations for food manufacturers as they review their current labeling.

The violations cited in the Warning Letters include unauthorized health claims, unauthorized nutrient content claims, and the unauthorized use of terms such as “healthy,” and others that have strict, regulatory definitions. Companies that received Warning Letters have 15 business days to inform the FDA of the steps they will take to correct their labeling.

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