FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday says he wants to closely examine claims made on food labels to ensure that they are more about health than about marketing.
Specifically, Gottlieb is interested in defining “healthy” and “natural” more uniformly, reports the Wall Street Journal.
These terms have been the subject of several lawsuits of late, including a 2016 suit against PepsiCo claiming statements like “no sugar added” and “only the best ingredients” on food labels have led consumers to believe that its Naked Juice products are healthier than than they are, as well as a class-action suit against General Mills claiming that the company’s Nature Valley granola bars could not be labeled as “natural” seeing as the oats used in the bars contained trace residue of the herbicide glyphosate.
This statement follows a June announcement by the FDA that the Agency would be postponing new nutrition information labels devised during the Obama administration, which companies were originally supposed to comply with by July 26 of next year; this has been postponed until January 2020 for larger food companies and January 2021 for smaller companies. These food labels would have made it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about calories, serving sizes, and added sugars in individual foods.
In recent months, the Trump administration has targeted several other food regulations developed during Obama's presidency. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in April a plan to delay a mandate requiring schools to reduce sodium levels in cafeteria meals and his intention to allow schools to serve meals that were not rich in whole grains to better cater to the tastes of children. The FDA also announced this spring that it would delay implementing a rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information until next year.
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