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FDA issues procedural notice on potential plans to conduct research about use of 'healthy' symbols on food products

Ingredient substitution rule dangerous for public
Will a nutrient content claim crackdown ensue?

The following quote is attributed to Conrad Choiniere, Ph.D., director of the Office of Analytics and Outreach, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:

"The FDA understands that consumers want healthy choices when it comes to food and nutrition. Today, we are issuing a procedural notice on preliminary consumer research we are planning on the use of symbols on food product labels. The symbol could later be used to convey the nutrient content claim ‘healthy.’ As part of the Paperwork Reduction Act, federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register on each proposed information collection and to give the public the opportunity to comment. Specifically, we are seeking input on ways to enhance the quality, usefulness and clarity of the information to be collected.

Nutrient content claims are a labeling tool that explicitly or implicitly characterizes the level of a nutrient in the food. These claims can help consumers quickly gain a better understanding of the general nutrition information listed on food packages.

We’re conducting this research in conjunction with the development of a proposed rule the FDA intends to later publish to update the definition of the nutrient content claim ‘healthy.’ Any potential symbol would represent the nutrient content claim 'healthy' and could be used voluntarily by companies on food product labels that meet the ‘healthy’ definition.

The update to the definition and creation of a symbol for the ‘healthy’ nutrient content claim are part of the FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy (NIS) and can help address health inequities associated with some nutrition-related chronic diseases. One of the goals of the NIS is to modernize claims. Claims serve as quick signals for consumers about the benefits contained in particular foods or beverages, and help consumers better understand nutrition information. Claims also can encourage companies to reformulate products to improve their nutritional value to be eligible to bear the claim.

Today’s request for feedback is an important initial step toward our goal of providing consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry.”

Additional Information

  • Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Federal Register notice on quantitative consumer research it intends to conduct on symbols that, in the future, could be used to convey the nutrient content claim "healthy." Later, the FDA intends to publish a proposed rule to update the definition of the "healthy" content claim. The symbol would be a stylized representation of the nutrient content claim.
  • The input the FDA is seeking includes whether the information collection is necessary to perform FDA’s work, the accuracy of the FDA’s estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection and ways to enhance the quality, usefulness and clarity of the information to be collected. Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register on each proposed information collection and to allow 60 days for public comment. Those who wish to comment may do so here: https://www.regulations.gov/.

Source: Federal Drug Administration

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