Hemi from fooducate.com did a great job formulating a list of 9 urgent items on his wishlist for FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg starting on her first full week in office today. These include:

1. Free packaged foods of “health claims“, which are actually marketing claims, by banning them altogether. A reminder to our readers, “health claims” are a concession that the US lawmaker gave to the powerful food industry lobby in the early 90’s when the Nutrition Education and Labeling Act was being negotiated. The result of that law is the nutrition label as we know it today.

2. Please stop the practice of rounding down to zero. Manufacturers are legally allowed to claim a product has 0 trans fat even if a serving contains 0.49 grams. And since we all know people consume much more than the formal serving size, they can get much more than the 0 trans fat they were expecting.

3. Serving Size – Here are some ridiculous examples – 11 potato chips, 2 Oreo cookies. Come on, even 3 year olds eat more than that in a sitting. The reason serving sizes are so minute is to make them appear less caloric/fat/salty/sweet in the nutrition label. Please help manufacturers give us accurate info.

4. How about a unified front of package label? These labels are supposed to be a quick glance way for a consumer to decide if a product is nutrtious enough ro not. With all the new formats sprouting like mad (NuVal, Smart Choices, Guiding Stars, etc..), consumers are more confused than ever. Why not adopt a system such as UK’s Traffic Lights? Yes, it irritates food manufacturers, but hey, you are supposed to protect us consumers.

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