FDA Targeting Deceptive Food Label Claims

General Mills, Coca Cola Company, and Kellogg’s are among the big name food manufacturers who have come under fire in recent months for making false claims on their products’ labels. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be stepping up its activities on food companies that make <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/consumer_news">bogus claims on packaging and labeling, said The Money Times.

According to The Money Times, the practice of using catchy packaging with claims about nutritional value and improved health have become routine in marketing efforts to draw in consumers. But, it is against federal law to make false, “ambiguous” claims on food labels and being caught doing so can lead to “warning letters,” “fines,” and/or “product seizures,” said The Money Times.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated that the agency “will take enforcement action against any egregious examples,” quoted The Money Times. “Some nutritionists have questioned whether this information is more marketing-oriented than health-oriented, and judging from some of the labels that we have seen, we think this is a valid concern,” Hamburg said, reported The Money Times.

Hamburg note, for example, foods that were at least 50 percent sugar indicating a “Smart Choices” checkmark; some foods boast high percentages of recommended daily vegetable allowances without mentioning that the foods also contain a whopping 80 percent of the daily fat limit, said The Money Times.

This year alone we wrote that General Mills was in some trouble over health claims it had been making over its popular cereal, Cheerios. The Associated Press (AP) reported previously that federal regulators were miffed over the cereal giant’s claims that Cheerios can lower cholesterol and treat heart disease; claims, says the FDA, that are only allowable on FDA-approved medications.

Another cereal giant, Kellogg Company, agreed to settle charges earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it used false advertising to tout its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. The national television ads falsely boasted benefits children receive after eating a breakfast of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats, saying that children who eat the breakfast cereal experience a 20 percent improvement in attentiveness over children who skipped breakfast, reported the SF Gate in a prior report, citing the FTC.

In January we wrote about how the Coca-Cola Company was being sued over false claims about some of its beverages in its second such scandal over deceptive marketing practices. According to a previous Reuters article, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was suing the soft drink giant in a class action lawsuit that accused it of making false claims about its Vitaminwater drinks.

That lawsuit followed an earlier warning by the FDA about its marketing of Diet Coke Plus, said Reuters, in which it claimed that Diet Coke Plus includes vitamins and minerals, which violate U.S. policy against marketing soda and other snack foods as more nutritious, or “fortified.” In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Coca-Cola launched Diet Coke Plus the prior year as a “a good source of vitamins B3, B6, and B12, and the minerals zinc and magnesium.” But, the FDA objected to Coca-Cola’s labeling, said the LA Times, which said the FDA “scolded” Coca-Cola for its “inappropriate nutritional claims” and labeling. “You should take prompt action to correct the violations,” it said in its December letter, reported Reuters.

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