Groups Debate Regulating Functional Food Claims
A number of consumer groups are looking for the government to do a better and quicker job of evaluating the health claims made by a variety of functional food products, reports Ad Age. Right now, it is argued, the myriad claims made by products in the marketplace have resulted in a great deal of consumer confusion.
Michael Ruggio, an attorney for the American Association for Health Freedom/Alliance for Natural Health, testifying at a Food and Drug Administration hearing earlier this week, said the agency’s current system is “creating increasing legal uncertainty” and “a new regulatory framework is urgently needed.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) also spoke and said the current regulatory system often results in consumers getting less information about a product than more.
The IFT is looking for the agency to loosen its control over the claims made by marketers. Instead, it recommends companies form their own scientific panels to verify the accuracy of health claims.
Bruce Silverglade, director of legal affairs for CSPI, disagreed with the IFT approach. He said CSPI recommends the FDA approve claims made for functional foods in advance while taking any gray areas out of current regulations. In turn, CSPI is looking for the agency to more strongly enforce the current regulations.
Pat Verduin, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief science officer at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said, “Consumers will be best served by the robust enforcement of existing provisions governing the safety of ingredients and the substantiation of claims.”
Dr. Verduin argued, “The current statutory and regulatory frameworks of the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provide the necessary oversight for addressing any issues related to the marketing and labeling of functional foods,” she said. “It is important to also note that under current law, any claim used in marketing and labeling must be truthful, not misleading and substantiated. If a claim is false, misleading or unsubstantiated, current FDA and FTC policy calls for appropriate sanctions to be enforced.”
Discussion Questions: Are consumers confused about the health claims made by functional foods? Does the current regulatory system efficiently and effectively
deal with health claims made by so-called functional foods?
- FDA Urged to Concentrate on Food-Health Ad Claims – AdAge.com (free reg. required)
- GMA/FPA Testifies Before U.S. Food & Drug Administration At Public Hearing on
Functional Foods – GMA/FPA