Have you heard that food companies often spend more money on the package that contains the food we buy than on the food itself? The labels shout at us in big letters with lots of colors, telling us why we should buy this product and not the one next to it.
One type of claim that can appear on product labels is that the food will help prevent disease.
These types of claims are more complicated because, although the FDA has rules concerning claims related to prevention of disease, they are less strict regarding claims about improving general health and wellness. They have established four standards for claims based on the scientific communities understanding of how unequivocal or “true” the connection is between the product and the health claim. Claims that are not found on the so-called “A” list must include disclaimers, such as “there is scientific evidence to support this claim, but the evidence is not conclusive.”
If the health claim appears on the “A” List, it means that the FDA has determined that there is significant scientific agreement with the claim, and no disclaimer is required.
Here are some claims that are found on the “A” List:
-Increased intake of sodium affects the risk of developing hypertension.
-Intake of folate (folic acid) is related to a reduced risk of neural tube birth defects.
-Eating whole grains is related to a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers.
-Calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
-Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grain products reduces the risk of some cancers.
-Decreased intake of dietary fat is related to decreased cancer risk.
-Decreased intake of sugar is related to decrease in tooth decay.
"B" "C" and "D" List
If the claim appears on the “B” List, it means that the FDA has determined that the scientific evidence is supportive of the claim, but not conclusive, and this disclaimer must be included on the food label.
If the claim appears on the “C” List, it means that the FDA has determined that the scientific evidence is limited and not conclusive, and this disclaimer must be included on the food label.
If the claim appears on the “D” List, it means that the FDA has determined that there is little scientific evidence that supports this claim, and this disclaimer must be included on the food label.
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