The Food and Drug Administration has fired off warning letters to 17 companies including Nestle, Beech-nut, and Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, directing them to correct food product labels that run afoul of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The violations included unauthorized health claims, unauthorized nutrient content claims, and the unauthorized use of terms such as “health,” that have strict, regulatory definitions.
For example, Beech-nut, PBM, First Juice and Nestle were cited for making claims on products intended for children under 2 years of age like “low sodium” and "plus vitamins & minerals." Such claims are not allowed because appropriate dietary levels have not been established for children in this age range.
Nestle was also dinged for implying that "Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice Orange Tangerine" and "Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice Grape" were 100% juice, when they are actually juice blends with added flavors.
Gorton’s Inc. was taken to task for boasting on the front of its package that its fish fillets have no trans fats, but failing to add a disclosure adjacent to the claim such as "See nutrition information for fat, saturated fat, and sodium content.” (in this case, 19 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, and 680 mg sodium per serving).
Dreyers ice cream drumsticks and bite-sized ice cream snacks were cited for the same offense.
Pom Wonderful got in trouble for claiming its pomegranate juice will treat, prevent, or cure diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. These types of claims are not allowed on food products.
Diamond Food Inc. faces the same problem with its claim that shelled walnuts will treat, prevent, or cure diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
Companies that received warning letters have 15 business days to inform the FDA of the steps they will take to correct their labeling.
“Today, ready access to reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food is even more important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in an open letter to the food industry dated March 3. “I have made improving the scientific accuracy and usefulness of food labeling one of my priorities.”