Tag Archives: FDA

42 States Getting $21.8 million To Implement Food Safety Rule

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is awarding a total of $21.8 million to help 42 states implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule. The rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

“As efforts for a nationally integrated food safety system advance, this funding will play a vital role in establishing programs at the state level to educate growers and provide technical assistance to ensure high rates of compliance with the produce safety rule,” said Melinda Plaisier, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA.

In March 2016, the FDA announced the funding opportunity, which was available to all states and U.S. territories, to begin the planning for and development of a state produce safety program.

The cooperative agreement between the FDA and the states provides awardees with the resources to formulate a multi-year plan to implement a produce safety system, develop and provide education, outreach and technical assistance, and develop programs to address the specific and unique needs of the growers in their farming communities.

State agencies are important because they have a better understanding and knowledge of the specific growing and harvesting practices in their areas and many have long standing relationships with produce growers and produce associations.

States and territories were classified into five tiers of funding eligibility based on the estimated number of farms growing covered produce within their jurisdictions. The funding opportunity is for five years, subject to the availability of funding from Congress. Further information on state awardees can be found here.

“The states were key partners to the FDA as FSMA’s produce safety provisions were being developed. [Friday’s] funding announcement demonstrates the FDA’s commitment to keep working closely with the states as we begin to implement the provisions,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA. “A robust federal-state partnership in produce safety will help protect American consumers from food-borne illness and benefit public health.”

Larger farms will need to comply with certain aspects of the produce safety rule requirements beginning in January 2018, with smaller produce operations having additional time to comply. The FDA intends to continue to work with growers to ensure that they understand the provisions and expectations for their implementation.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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FDA Encouraging Sharp Cut in Salt In Packaged, Restaurant Foods

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this past week issued “long-awaited proposed guidelines targeting packaged foods and restaurant meals that contain the bulk of American’s daily sodium intake,” a voluntary approach that is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort “to push the food industry toward reducing the amount of ingredients such as sugar and some fats in an effort to improve consumer health and reduce medical costs,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The story says that “the FDA wants to cut individual daily salt intake to 2,300 milligrams over the next decade from a current average of about 3,400 milligrams. It is targeting 150 categories of food, including soups, deli meats, bakery products, snacks and pizza, and officials said consumers have struggled to reduce their intake because most of it is added before it reaches the table … The voluntary salt targets are to be phased-in. The rules as currently proposed give manufacturers two years to begin cutting sodium levels in products, and up to 10 years to make further cuts. The longer time period is intended to recognize the time it takes to develop new foods products, the FDA said.”
According to the Journal, “The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group, estimated that it would take six to 18 months and cost $500,000 to $700,000 to reformulate a product with less salt to meet the guidelines, assuming alternatives were available.”
Meanwhile, in a related story, the Gothamist reports that a New York State appeals court has lifted an injunction that prevented the New York City Board of Health from enforcing a sodium labeling law.
The story says that beginning next Monday (June 6), “any chain restaurant in New York City that operates 15 or more locations in the United States is subject to the law, which requires them to mark dishes that exceed the Board’s recommendation for daily sodium intake with an icon of a salt shaker inside a triangular warning sign.”

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Unfortunately, the food industry has brought the need for such guidelines on itself, by so substantially – and unnecessarily – boosting the sodium content of countless products in the name of either taste-enhancing or improving shelf (and pantry) life.

I happen to be uncommonly sensitive to salt in food. I do nearly all the cooking in my house, and only very rarely do I add any salt to anything. And there are a great many places (including nearly every fast food chain) that I refuse to patronize because of their salt use practices.

Among other things, too much salt in one’s food can contribute to high blood pressure, water retention and, not by chance, weight gain.

In reporting on the new FDA proposed guidelines, The New York Times noted that Americans eat almost 50 percent more sodium than what most experts recommend. Regarding its link to high pressure, “a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” The Times quoted the FDA as saying “one in three Americans have high blood pressure; For African-Americans, it is one in two.”

The FDA said Americans eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, well above the 2,300 recommended. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), a decrease in sodium intake by as little as 400 milligrams a day could prevent 32,000 heart attacks and 20,000 strokes annually.

While there has been some scientific controversy over how much to reduce sodium, scientists at the FDA said the health advantages are beyond dispute.

FDA Updates Nutrition Labels

 

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NOTE: Most of what you read on this blog has been carefully-rewritten and either condensed or expanded from something from one or more of the many news sources we scan. This piece is an exception: It is a virtually verbatim representation of a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The subject: The agency’s announcement this morning that nutrition labels for packaged foods have been updated, and details of the changes are included.

This is an important, long-overdue update. Unfortunately, its full impact won’t kick in until 2018, or 2019, in the case of smaller companies. The delay provides time for existing stock to work its way through distributors’ warehouses and retail outlets.

 

 

Today, May 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a major step in making sure consumers have updated nutritional information – for most packaged foods sold in the United States –  that will help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed their families.

“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Key Updates

The new Nutrition Facts label will include the following.

  • An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices.
  • Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat.
  • Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product. It is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars, and this is consistent with the scientific evidence supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples include a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
  • For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
  • Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D, consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and are used to calculate the %DV that manufacturers include on the label.
  • Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount, in addition to the %DV. These are nutrients that some people are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. The %DV for calcium and iron will continue to be required, along with the actual gram amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare, but these nutrients can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.
  • An abbreviated footnote to better explain the %DV.

The FDA is also making minor changes to the Supplement Facts label found on dietary supplements to make it consistent with the Nutrition Facts label.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules. The FDA plans to conduct outreach and education efforts on the new requirements.

The iconic Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago to help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. In March 2014, the FDA proposed two rules to update the label, and in July 2015, issued a supplemental proposed rule. The Nutrition Facts label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

How ‘Unhealthy’ Are Some ‘Healthy’ Foods?

 

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Photo: HealtyDay

 

Is a granola bar a ‘healthy’ food? The FDA advised the producer of some such bars to ban that word from its packaging. Then, sometime later, the federal agency which oversees the health and safety of food in the U.S. relented, and agreed that Kind LLC, could kind of make a case that its products fit an old definition of ‘healthy’. The company was allowed to resume calling its bars “healthy and tasty” on its packages.

Why first the hard-nosed approach by the FDA, then the soft-peddling and stepping–back, allowing the manufacturer to resume doing what it comfortably had been doing for a long while? Simply stated, as a recent Wall Street Journal article explained, “The nutritional landscape and knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet has changed considerably since 1994, when the FDA first officially used the term ‘healthy.’ Back then, health advocates were taking aim at fats – not sugar or gluten – which are among today’s targets.”

In a statement to the paper, the FDA said, “We believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term ‘healthy.'” The Journal noted that the process could take years, and will likely rely on public input. A bill in Congress, if approved, would urge the FDA to make this matter a priority, according to the news report.

As this blog has noted before, Americans have in recent years eaten ever-greater quantities of ultra processed foods – items often containing excessive amounts of fat, sugars (or several kinds),sodium and other things that make it hard to consider such foods to be ‘healthy’. Fortunately, there has been an increasing amount of publicity lately warning consumers about the risks such foods pose.

There also have been significant efforts on the part of some food developers and processors to reduce quantities of risk-causing contents in their products.

Some jurisdictions are requiring fast food restaurants to prominently post nutritional facts about their menu items. The website fastfoodnutrition.org has breakdowns of the nutritional make-up of what’s served at no fewer than 34 chains. Anyone interested enough can quickly compare the good, the bad and the ugly at chains in their area.

Supermarkets, too, are doing more to make the nutritional values (or lack thereof) of their store-prepared offerings.

And, amazingly, the latter trends are taking place almost in spite of, rather than at the urging of, government agencies.

Equally amazing, though, is the fact that fast feeders, while on the one hand offering ‘bargain menus’  that, being smaller, are comparatively healthy, compared to their full-sized stable mates, also are, on the other hand, continuing to offer servings so large as to be truly gross.

Take Whataburger’s Avocado Bacon Burger: It serves up, in a 1126 g burger, a whopping 1530 calories – 650 of them in the form of fat. That represents 111% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for fat in a 2000-calorie diet. Its 1850 mg of sodium represents 77% of the RDA for that element.

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One of the most amazing – and most disgusting – burger that be ‘casually ordered,’ at least in Los Angeles, is Wendy’s Quad Baconator – so outrageous that it doesn’t even show up on the lit-up menu board. But you can order it – then guess at the makeup of the massively excessive mess on your plate.

You can’t be sure how much of this or that is in it because the closest you can come to a description of this gargantuan collection of burger, slices of cheese, and bacon slices is in the description on dietfacts.com of Wendy’s Baconator Triple. Its 3 burger patties, 3 slices of American cheese and nine slices of Applewood smoked bacon weighs in at 424 g, offers 1330 calories, 780 of them from fat. At 86 g, its total fat content represents 132% of the RDA, with the saturated fat alone accounting for 190% of the RDA.

Close behind, in the bad news category, is the Baconator Triple’s 3150 g of sodium – 131% of the RDA, and the 115% of RDA cholesterol content.

Imagine how much more powerful, in totally negative ways, the Quad Baconator is!

Clearly, people ordering such insults to common sense aren’t in the least concerned about what their diet habits are doing to their bodies.

We’re not writing for such people, as I’m sure you appreciate!