Product Liability

FDA warns food companies to change ‘misleading’ labels

Dreyers 100x100 FDA warns food companies to change misleading labelsSeveral food products on store shelves have misleading labels that violate federal law, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning companies to change those labels within 15 days or the agency will pull those products from grocery store shelves. The FDA sent warning letters to 17 different food makers last week demanding swift compliance.

The companies were cited for various violations including claims that the food products treat or mitigate disease. The FDA says that such claims would mean the food would have to be relabeled as a drug, and thus would have to be approved by the FDA for sale. Other citations include misleading labels on blended juice products that claim they are made entirely from a single juice; claims that a food is “healthy” when it does not meet established standards of use of the term; claims that a product is free of trans fat, implying they are a healthier choice when they are also high in unhealthy saturated fats; and nutrient claims on foods for children under the age of 2 that are only approved for use by adults.

The following firms and products were cited by the FDA:

  • Beech-nut: Beech-Nut Good Morning Whole Grain Oatmeal with Mixed Fruit (nutrient claims on products for small children)
  • Diamond Food Inc.: Diamond Shelled Walnuts (unauthorized health claims)
  • Dreyers Grand Ice Cream Inc.: Nestle Drumstick Classic Vanilla Fudge and Dreyer’s Dibs Bite Sized Ice Cream Snacks Vanilla Ice Cream (unsupported nutrient claim; trans-fat-free claim on high saturated-fat product)
  • First Juice Inc.: Organic Fruit and Veggie Juice Beverage products (unauthorized nutrient and health claims)
  • Fleminger Inc.: TeaForHealth green tea products (promoted for conditions that cause the products to be drugs)
  • Gorton’s Inc.: Gorton’s Beer Batter Crispy Battered Fish Fillets (trans-fat free claim on high-saturated-fat product)
  • Ken’s Foods Inc.: Healthy Options Parmesan & Peppercorn, Sweet Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette, and Raspberry Walnut Dressing (unauthorized health claims; low-fat claims on product high in fats)
  • Nature’s Path Foods Inc.: Organic Flax Plus Multigrain Cereal (unapproved nutrient claim)
  • Nestle USA: several Juicy Juice products (misleading claims of juice content; nutrient claims on products for small children)
  • PBM Products: some Parent’s Choice cereal products (nutrient claims on products for small children)
  • Pompeian: Pompeian Imported Extra Light Olive Oil (“light” claim for product high in fat; unsupported nutrient claim)
  • POM Wonderful: POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx products (promoted for conditions that cause the products to be drugs)
  • Redco Foods: Salada Naturally Decaffeinated Green Tea (promoted for conditions that cause the product to be a drug)
  • Schwan’s Consumer Brands: Mrs. Smith’s Classic Coconut Custard Pie (trans-fat-free claim on product high in saturated fat)
  • Spectrum Organic Products Inc.: Organic All Vegetable Shortening (cholesterol-free claim on product high in fats)
  • Sunsweet Growers: Sunsweet Antioxidant Blend dried fruit mix (unapproved nutrient claim)
  • Want Want Foods: Baby Mum-Mum Original Selected Superior Rice Rusks (nutrient claim on product for small children)

In the open letter to the firms, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg expressed that food labeling is a priority for the agency in its fight against obesity and diet-related diseases. “This need is highlighted by the announcement recently by the First Lady of a coordinated national campaign to reduce the incidence of obesity among our citizens, particularly our children,” Hamburg wrote.