FDA Allows Food Makers to Tout Benefits of Whole-Grain Products

Article excerpt

If you're still eating all the wrong foods, it'll only get harder for you to blame it on ignorance. Nutritional information is a growth industry, and one place where it's popping up with increasing frequency is the grocery-store shelf.

Earlier this month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration opted to allow food manufacturers to make claims on certain products about the healthful benefits of whole grains.

Labels on foods that consist, by weight, of at least 51 percent whole grains now may state the following: "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers."

Since 1993, the FDA has authorized food manufacturers to make 10 different health claims about products that meet certain specifications. The permitted claims refer, for example, to the benefits of diets high in calcium, soluble fiber and folate, and low in fat, sodium and sugar.

In the next few weeks, labels on some General Mills products will incorporate the whole grains statement, which is the 11th health claim to appear on food packaging. General Mills sought permission from the FDA to make the claim. It applies to all food manufacturers, as long as the product in question meets specifications.

Customers have demonstrated that their purchasing decisions are affected by information about the connection between diet and health, according to Tom Johnson, spokesman for General Mills in Minneapolis. …