Health & Food

Food and Supplement Label Claims

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend! Last night Nick and I went bowling with some of my friends, and their husbands, from my dietetic internship. It was pretty fun, despite the fact that we all stunk at bowling. Tonight we are going to dinner with his family, which is always a good time.I wanted to clear something up before I get into the topic of today’s post. On Tuesday when I posted about supplements, Karen reminded to explain to my readers that supplements are not evaluated by the FDA prior to going on the market. I failed to mention that, but it’s an important piece of information to point out. Supplements are treated life foods, rather than drugs. It’s actually up to the manufacturer to make sure supplements are safe and efficacious. But you know manufacturer’s are only out to make money, so can they be trusted? Some can, others can’t, that’s the risk you take. If you remember anything, remember this; NATURAL IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH SAFE! You also never know about the quality of a supplement, or whether what is reported on the label is actually what you are consuming, as this is not evaluated by the FDA either. However, there are third party companies that will come in and analyze the quality of supplements. The manufacturer pays extra for this service.

Remember to look for these symbols, which will indicate that a supplement has been tested for quality, contamination, and proper strength:Label ClaimsLabel Claims 1Label Claims
There are three different types of label claims, two of which I will discuss here.

#1) Health Claims

Definition: Health claims link a nutrient in a food or supplement with the decreased risk of a certain disease or condition.

Regulation: The FDA is responsible for making sure foods and supplements make health claims that are not false and misleading. Normally the FDA will review a health claim prior to the product being put on the market. There are many qualified health claims, which you can view here. Does the FDA actually test the food or supplement to make sure it actually contains what the health claim says? Nope. That would just take too long, even though it would be nice.

If a product’s health claim is ever brought into question, the FDA will re-analyze the claim. A good example would be Cheerios, which in May of 2009 was brought to the attention of the FDA because their claim to help reduce cholesterol and thus reduce heart disease wasn’t really stated clearly, or in an appropriate manor.

Some Examples of Health Claims

– ” This food is an excellent source of calcium, which has been shown to decrease risk for osteoporosis.”

– “This product is low in sodium. Low sodium diets may help prevent high blood pressure.”
– “The fiber in this product has been shown to decrease risk for some types of cancer.“

# 2) Structure/Function Claims

Definition: Structure/Function claims link a certain nutrient in a product or supplement with a certain function in the body.

Regulation: How many time have you read a food or supplement label and thought to yourself, “Who regulates these? How can this company make this claim?!”. The FDA doesn’t regulate these claims until after they have been on the market, and after someone suggests to the FDA that the claim should be reviewed (similar to the Cheerios example, with the claim to “help reduce cholesterol”, which was written in a way that made it sound like Cheerios was a drug that could be used as a cholesterol lowering agent).

Some Examples of Structure/Function Claims

– Calcium can build strong bones

– Fiber can keep you regular

Supplements are required to have the FDA disclaimer for all structure/function claims.

“This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”

Question: Would you like to add anything to my label claim discussion?

About author


Hi, my name is Rebecca Houston and I am a writer. I write about health, healthy food and daily meal plan for various websites.
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