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Dysfunctional Food Fight

Winston thought the function of food was to be tasty and provide some nutrition. Apparently that’s not enough anymore. Now consumers want their food to multi-task. Hence, functional foods, products that claim to have extra benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease or boosting the immune system.

When consumers have new demands two outcomes are certain, companies will respond with a bevy of choices and NGOs will take legal action against them for doing so. Which explains why the Center for Science in the Public Interest is threatening to sue Coca-Cola and Nestle over a caffeinated soft drink called Enviga which supposedly helps burn calories.

The Food and Drug Administration has primary regulatory responsibility for food labels which puts them in the middle of the functional food fight. According to a press account of an FDA meeting, agency “officials seemed skeptical of both industry's call to expand functional food labeling as well as consumer advocacy groups' request for a crackdown on inflated claims.”

A crucial legal issue that both the government and CSPI need to keep in mind is that FDA decisions on food labeling issues will be governed by the requirements of Data Quality Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act. Should the FDA not comply with the DQA, the agency may be surprised to find that they – not the food companies – are ones in court.

See BevNet article

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