On March 3, 2010, the FDA announced that it notified 17 food manufacturers that claims on the labeling for 22 of their foods products were in violation of federal law. The FDA also issued an open letter to the food industry in which the FDA stressed the importance of providing clear and reliable nutritional information to the public, and singled out a number of express and implied claims that it believes are false and misleading.
For example, the FDA indicated that it believed that a claim that a food is free of trans fat may imply that the product is a better choice than a product without the claim, which can be misleading for a product that is high in saturated fat. The FDA also raised concerns regarding health claims, including claims that a food could prevent or cure hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. The FDA indicated that it believes that products that make such claims will be considered "drugs" by the FDA and must meet the regulatory requirements for drugs. Additionally, the FDA stressed that certain health claims are not permitted in connection with foods intended for infants and toddlers if dietary levels for the nutrients cited have not been established for children under two.
TIP: The FDA has made it clear that it is closely evaluating nutritional labeling and health claims. Food manufacturers and restaurants should take care to consider the nutritional information they provide to consumers.