FDA Smackdown on Food Labeling
When it comes to advertising, there is messaging and reality. The mix of the two is ok when it comes to technology product hype, for example. Food, on the other hand, is a different ballgame and the Federal Food and Drug Administration agrees.
In what some are calling an "unusual crackdown," the FDA has pulled the card of 17 food companies, saying that they have violated federal laws by making false or misleading claims on packaging.
According to reports, the FDA sent red flags in the form of letters to companies such as Gerber and Nestle in February. The letters gave the companies 15 days to respond with the steps they will take to correct the false advertising. If companies fail to comply, the FDA may take further action, including seizure of products.
The types of companies that have been targeted range as much as the information on labels the FDA is going after.
Products such as Mrs. Smith's Coconut Custard Pie, Gorton's Fish Fillets, Beechnut DHA Plus line of baby food, Diamond walnuts and Pom Wonderful 100 percent pomegranate juice are on the target list.
Beechnut told the Washington Post that it is reviewing the FDA letter, and the president of Pompeian, another of the companies, said told the Post that the labels for its Pompeian Imported Extra Light Olive Oil will be revised.
"This is a shot across the industry bow," Gary L. Yingling, a partner at K&L Gates, who represents food manufacturers in matters before the FDA, told the Post. "Instead of picking out one company and trying to make an example, they're going after them with a shotgun."
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg wrote in an open letter to the industry that accurate labeling is a top priority. She said false or misleading claims on the front of packaging undermine the ability of consumers to make healthy choices.
Often times, consumers trust brands and advertising mostly because for the past 50 plus years, society has been trained to drink from the messaging water hose (until social media changed the game). When it comes to food however, consumers are facing enough health and wellness issues that they deserve to know exactly what they are buying and digesting.