Whenever I delve deeper into the world of food labels, I become more frustrated and more determined to buy wholesome foods — as close to their natural state as possible. Now, here’s yet another reason to steer clear of bottled, canned, and packaged foods.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest — which has done some wonderful watchdog work to crack down on deceptive food labeling — claims that a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report to get rid of inaccurate information and misleading health claims on food labels is itself misleading itself.
"The FDA report implies that agency inspectors checked more than 28,000 food labels for inaccurate nutrition information within a recent 14 month period when in reality, the inspectors merely checked to see whether a Nutrition Facts panel was present on the label, not whether it was accurate," the CSPI charged, in a press release on its website.
Just check out the CSPI’s confidence-cutting claims about the FDA, which is supposed to be protecting us.
"The FDA’s report to Congress demonstrates that the specific issues of concern to the Committee—the accuracy of Nutrition Facts labels and misleading health-related claims that make it difficult for Americans to comply with federal dietary advice–have been the casualty of not only budget cuts, but a lack of commitment on the part of the Agency to fulfill its mission," wrote CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade to the Congressional committees responsible for FDA appropriations.
"The FDA should be cracking down on claims for bogus ‘whole wheat’ products, deceptive ‘0 trans fat’ claims, inaccurate ‘Nutrition Facts’ labels, and misleading statements like ‘made with real fruit’ (when the product contains only fruit flavors), not just eyeballing labels to make sure that information is printed in the required format."
The CSPI is absolutely right here! Indeed, I’ve looked into these claims while working on my upcoming book, SUGAR SHOCK!, and I’m scandalized by some of the misleading label claims in this area.
More to the point, CSPI senior staff attorney Ilene Ringel Heller blamed the FDA for its "abdication of its responsibility to ensure honest food labeling by touting irrelevant statistics concerning routine Agency inspection activities. The FDA has been less than forthright with Congress."
Hurrah to the CSPI for its five recommendations, urging the FDA to:
- "systematically test the accuracy of Nutrition Facts labels";
- "give labeling enforcement higher priority during inspections of manufacturing facilities and distribution facilities," and
- "increase funding to the FDA division responsible for food labeling."
Again, as I said before, you’re safest when you buy foods that just aren’t packaged — you know, veggies, fruits, organic meats, etc. — therefore, you won’t fall into the labels trap.