Magazine article Work & Family Life

Promises, Promises on Food Product Labels

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Promises, Promises on Food Product Labels

Article excerpt

You may have noticed that more and more food products are claiming to have some effect on the way the body operates: for example, a cereal containing the herb ginkgo promises to "support mental alertness" or a particular brand of margarine may say that it "helps promote healthy cholesterol levels."

These so-called "structure/ function claims" are a relatively recent development in advertising, and they sound a lot like the health claims on many food labels, such as "may reduce the risk of heart disease." Trouble is, the Food and Drug Administration has a rigorous process before a health claim can legally appear on food labels, but the new category of promises has eluded this process. So consumers need to be alert to structure/function claims and also to recognize the difference between these and health claims.

For the record, the FDA has approved the use of 10 specific health claims that link the following foods and diseases:

* Calcium-rich foods and reduced risk of osteoporosis

* Low-sodium foods and reduced risk of high blood pressure

* Low-fat diet and reduced risk of cancer

* A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and reduced risk of heart disease

* High-fiberfoods and reduced risk of cancer

* Soluble-fiber in fruits, vegetable, and grains and reduced risk of heart disease

* Soluble-fiber in oats and psyllium seed husk and reduced risk of heart disease

* Fruit- and vegetable-rich diet and reduced risk of cancer

* Folate-rich food and reduced risk of neural tube defects

* Less sugar and reduced risk of dental cavities. …

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