Tags: MarketWatch | US | Food | Labels

MarketWatch: Food, Supplement Labels Make Bogus Claims

By    |   Sunday, 10 Nov 2013 11:22 AM

The margin of error on food labels in the United States is 20 percent, and some ingredient claims are not only misleading but downright wrong, MarketWatch reported.

That may be partly because the Food and Drug Administration requires that calories and ingredients ranging from vitamins and minerals to carbohydrates and fat “must be present at 80 percent or more of the value declared on the label.”

MarketWatch said a new report in the journal BMC Medicine found that of 44 bottles of herbal supplements from 12 companies that it tested, one-third did not contain a speck of the supplement claimed, such as St. John’s wort herb.

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A study in the Journal of the American Diatetic Association found that calories in frozen food were actually an average of 8 percent higher than claimed on the labels, and that restaurant dishes contained on average 18 percent higher calories than claimed on restaurant menus.

Christina Munsell, a research associate at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said much of the packaged food goods in the U.S. are made by large corporations that have much incentive to make their labels accurate or face consumer backlash and legal problems.

But supplements are not regulated by the FDA nearly to the degree that food and drugs are, MarketWatch reported.

“It’s more like the wild west,” Munsell said.

Tamara Duker Freuman, a New York-based registered dietician, told MarketWatch that some supplement manufacturers buy their ingredients in other countries or online and may not test them for purity or efficacy.

A spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade group, told MarketWatch that concerns about supplement ingredients are exaggerated.

The New York Times reported FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess accuses many herbal supplement companies of ignoring good manufacturing practices.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a very high percentage — approximately 70 percent — of firms’ noncompliance, and we are very active in taking enforcement actions against such violations,” Burgess said.

The FDA is cracking down harder on at least one food production practice, however. NBC News reported the agency said Thursday it intends to require food makers to gradually phase out artificial trans fats — an artery-clogging substance found in crackers, cookies, pizza and other baked goods.

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The margin of error on food labels in the United States is 20 percent, and some ingredient claims are not only misleading but downright wrong, MarketWatch reported.
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2013-22-10
Sunday, 10 Nov 2013 11:22 AM
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