June 03, 2010

FTC Investigation of Ad Claims that Rice Krispies Benefits Children's Immunity Leads to Stronger Order Against Kellogg

FTC News Release: 

Leading cereal maker Kellogg Company has agreed to new advertising restrictions to resolve a Federal Trade Commission investigation into questionable immunity-related claims for Rice Krispies cereal. This is the second time in the last year that the FTC has taken action against the company.

“We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims – not once, but twice – that its cereals improve children’s health,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it’s making before rolling out a new ad campaign, so parents can make the best choices for their children.”

Kellogg has agreed to expand a settlement order that was reached last year after the FTC alleged that the company made false claims that its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%.”

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Post by Donna M. Byrne, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

June 3, 2010 in Health Claims, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2009

When is breakfast cereal a "drug"? When it's Cheerios

General Mills, maker of Cheerios, received a letter from the FDA yesterday warning that the health claims about fiber and heart disease on Cheerios boxes are unauthorized and make the cereal into a "drug." The claims about  fiber show that the product is "intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, or treatment of a disease." 

Some Cheerios boxes say "You can lower cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks."

The letter also states that the Cheerios website is treated part of its labeling because the URL is printed on the box, and the website says "Heart-healthy diets rich in whole grain foods can reduce the risk of heart disease." This statement is not an authorized health claim.

Here are some of the requirements for "qualified health claims" regarding fiber and coronary heart disease from 21 CFR 101.77(c)(2)(i):

(A) The claim states that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain fiber may or might reduce the risk of heart disease;

(B) In specifying the disease, the claim uses the following terms: heart disease or coronary heart disease;

(C) The claim is limited to those fruits, vegetables, and grains that contain fiber;

(D) In specifying the dietary fiber, the claim uses the term fiber, dietary fiber, some types of dietary fiber, some dietary fibers, or some fibers; the term soluble fiber may be used in addition to these terms;

(E) In specifying the fat component, the claim uses the terms saturated fat and cholesterol; and

(F) The claim indicates that development of heart disease depends on many factors; and

(G) The claim does not attribute any degree of risk reduction for coronary heart disease to diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain fiber.

May 13, 2009 in Health Claims, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 08, 2008

FDA Final Rule on Soluble Fiber Health Claims and fat content

Last week the FDA published a final rule on soluble fiber and coronory heart disease.  (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-9590.pdf).  The interesting tidbit involves the fat content of foods that carry the label. Under  regulation, sec. 101.62, a food could only carry the soluble fiber/coronary heart disease health claim if the food also satisfied the definitions of "low fat," "low saturated fat," and "low cholesterol."

Oatmeal Quaker Oats filed a citizen petition requesting a change in the regulation because its new "reduced sugar" instant oatmeal did not qualify as "low fat" and therefore could not carry the health claim.  The reduced sugar product had the same amount of oats, same amount of fiber (from the oats), and the same amount of total fat as the regular instant oatmeal, but the package weighed less because of the missing sugar.  Instant oatmeal is "low fat" if it has no more than 3 grams of fat per 55 grams of instant oatmeal (the "reference amount commonly consumed"). 

So the new reduced sugar product, with no added fat, got caught up in the rule that was intended to keep health claims off of fat-laden oatmeal cookies.

The new regulation exempts oat products that do not contain added fat from the "low fat" rule.  These products can carry the health claim even though they do not qualify as "low fat" under the regulations, provided the fat in the oatmeal is the fat naturally occurring in the oats.

May 8, 2008 in Health Claims | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2006

National "healthy" foods and the junk food culture

<p>As I reported <a href="http://foodlawprof.typepad.com/food_and_nutrition_law_an/2006/12/food_babel_cspi.html">yesterday</a>, the Center for Science in the Public Interest wants the FDA to develop national &quot;healthy&quot; labels. The plea is a response to the plethora of food company labels and symbols on supermarket shelves, and the rationale is that &quot;a prominent and reliable symbol on the fronts of packages would be a tremendous help to those harried shoppers racing through the supermarket.&quot;</p> <p>This makes sense, but I think it misses the bigger picture.&nbsp; Rather than speeding up the Harried-Shopper Race with easy-to-recognize quick-to-grab preprocessed packaged foods, perhaps we should try to eliminate the Harried Shopper Race altogether.&nbsp; What if people actually had time to cook their own foods?&nbsp; (See my<a href="http://foodlawprof.typepad.com/food_and_nutrition_law_an/2006/12/government_shou.html"> post</a> today about British Tory leader David Cameron's comments.) There would be no need to race down the long aisles of prepackaged foods.&nbsp; But this would require a change in culture rather than more rules that seem to be consumer-oriented, but actually function to perpetuate an unhealthy lifestyle and by facilitating the marketing of processed foods.</p>

December 2, 2006 in Food culture, Health Claims, Issues and thoughts, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2006

Food Babel -- CSPI Wants Uniform "Healthy Food" Labeling System

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a petition with the FDA asking it to create uniform "healthy food" symbols that would replace the sometimes meaningless or misleading symbols designed by processed food manufacturers.

“The supermarket is teeming with competing ‘healthy food’ symbols that run the gamut from highly helpful to fatally flawed,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But a prominent and reliable symbol on the fronts of packages would be a tremendous help to those harried shoppers racing through the supermarket. Not everyone has the time or knowledge to scrutinize the Nutrition Facts labels or to decode the symbols Kraft, PepsiCo, General Mills, or other companies happen to be using.”

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According to CSPI, well-designed “healthy food” symbols would steer Americans away from foods that promote obesity, heart disease, and other serious health problems, and toward fresh and processed foods that promote good health.

What foods would those be, exactly?  And who gets to decide?  Don't we already have this with FDA-approved health claims?  Do food packaging claims (FDA-approved or not) actually serve to educate consumers?

“The FDA should tear down this Tower of Babel propped up by food companies, and give consumers the reliable information they need at a glance,” said CSPI legal affairs director Bruce Silverglade, who was a driving force in winning passage of the 1990 law that led to the Nutrition Facts label.

December 1, 2006 in Health Claims, Issues and thoughts, Labeling, marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 30, 2006

Health Claim Notification for Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Trans Fat, and Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Health Claim Notification for Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Trans fat and Reduced Risk of Heart Disease. Notification to manufacturers that they may use the specified claim by Kraft Foods, relating to the relationship between dietary consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat, and the risk of heart disease, on the label and in labeling of any food product that meets the eligibility criteria described in the Kraft notification and as amended, unless or until FDA or a court acts to prohibit the claim. URL: Health Claim Notification for Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Trans Fat, and Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

November 30, 2006 in Health Claims, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack