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Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drug Administration’

With New FDA Rules, Gluten-Free Actually Means No Gluten (Mostly)

New FDA rules now say that food marked “gluten-free” can’t have levels of gluten that exceed 20 parts gluten per million parts of food. In addition, these foods can’t contain rye, barley, wheat, or any crossbreeds of those items. According to Business Insider, this is the lowest level of gluten that can be detected and the new rule puts our gluten-free standard on par with those in other countries.

This is the first time we have legally binding rules about gluten-free foods in place. They come along with new high standards for foods marked “sodium free,” “sodium free,” and “sugar free.”

For people who suffer from celiac disease, it must be a relief to know that what they’re getting is actually following the most strict guidelines available. There are three million people suffering from celiac disease. About 18 million are gluten sensitive. And then there are those who are going gluten-free to lose weight through regimens like the paleo diet.

This is a $4.2 billion market.  For brands, there’s good and bad with these new rules.

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Marketed to Adults, but Hurting Kids? FDA Launches Investigation Into Foods With Added Caffeine

Once upon a time, when a person needed a morning jump-start or a midday pick-me-up, they reached for a cup of coffee. These days, though, coffee has some serious competition; weary folks can now choose from an array of amped-up foodstuffs, including gum, concentrated energy shots, candy, and even caffeinated Cracker Jacks.

Michael Taylor, the FDA‘s deputy commissioner of foods, said that the only time the FDA explicitly approved the practice of adding caffeine to a food or drink was in the 1950s when it allowed the stimulant to be included in cola. The current prevalence of caffeine-filled foods is “beyond anything FDA envisioned,” Taylor said. “It is disturbingWe’re concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated.”

The governing body is especially concerned when it comes to the effects of such foods on children; while kids aren’t likely to seek out a boring cup of joe, they may be more apt to grab a bag of jolt-inducing jelly beans. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked caffeine to harmful effects on young people’s still-developing neurological and cardiovascular systems. So, while the FDA is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots (thanks to consumer reports of illness and death), the organization has decided to go a step further and look specifically at the foods’ effects on children.

Companies that manufacture and market caffeinated foods say that their products are intended for — and marketed to — adults. Wrigley, which recently released Alert Energy Gum (40 milligrams of caffeine per piece), pointed out that packages of the gum are labeled “for adult use only.” A spokesperson for the company said, “Millions of Americans consume caffeine responsibly and in moderation as part of their daily routines.”

While that may be, critics say it’s not enough for companies to say they are marketing the products to adults, who are capable of making more informed decisions about the amount of caffeine they consume, when the foods themselves are clearly attractive (and readily available) to children. In a letter to the FDA, Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said of such foods: “One serving of any of these foods isn’t likely to harm anyone. The concern is that it will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day, sometimes unwittingly, as companies add caffeine to candies, nuts, snacks and other foods.”

In acknowledgement that the consumption of one caffeinated item may not cause adverse effects, the probe will focus on the effects of added caffeine in its totality, and whether the increasing number of caffeinated products on the market might mean more adverse health effects for children.

More Unsavory Chatter Keeping Pepsi Spokespeople Busy

Photo: needoptic

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into a notice it received from Coca-Cola about fungicide contamination in a major orange juice brand. Coke denied at first that it made the report, but later fessed up, MSN reports. The Wall Street Journal says the fungicide has been found in Coke products and those of its competitors.

The two companies have two-thirds of the orange juice market share in the U.S. Pepsi’s brands are Tropicana and Dole; Coke’s are Minute Maid and Simply Orange. The fungicide, Carbendazim, is not approved in the U.S., but it is in Brazil, which is a source of orange imports for the U.S. On this issue, a Pepsi spokesperson declined comment to The WSJ. We’re already seeing headlines like this.

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Judge Puts a Hold on Graphic Cigarette Images

Back in June, when nine graphic images were chosen to appear on cigarette packaging, there was talk from the cigarette industry of legal action. A federal judge agrees with the companies’ lawsuit, filed in August, and has put a halt to plans to decorate cigarette packaging with pictures of rotting lungs and human blowholes, saying the images violate First Amendment rights.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory authority over the tobacco industry, would like to reduce the adult smoking rate from 20 percent to 12 percent by 2020, The Wall Street Journal says. But the cigarette companies argue that they shouldn’t be forced place a warning on the side of their perfectly legal products saying “Don’t buy this product.” The judge ordered the plan put on hold for more than a year after the final ruling.

We’re wondering if there isn’t a more effective way to go about changing people’s behavior than horrible images.

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Coming Soon to Theaters: Calorie Counts

Across the U.S., movie theaters are preparing to make some unwanted concessions.

For weeks, theater owners have lobbied the Food and Drug Administration and congressional staff members for exemption from proposed rules requiring their snack stands to post the calories in popcorn, nachos, hot pretzels and other prepared foods. Today, the FDA is expected to announce its decision. (Update: As of March 30, it looks like a decision still hasn’t been made.)

Movie-concession disclosure rules fall under the same healthcare law provision that seeks to educate consumers by requiring chain restaurants to post the nutritional content of menu items. But the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) fought for exclusion, contending that Congress didn’t specifically mention movie theaters when deliberating the measure last year.

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FDA’s Shocking Images to Discourage Smoking

The Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comment on 36 images it developed to deter smoking. Many of the images, like the one at left, are eye-catching to say the least.

A law passed last year requires larger and more graphic warnings displayed on cigarette packs. The warnings have to appear by October 22, 2012 and must be placed on the top half of the pack with the brand name of the cigarette on the bottom and on the front and back of the pack.

The FDA is seeking comment through January 9, 2011. All of the images are available on the FDA website.