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Critics of the U.S. Food and Drug Administraton (FDA) frequently cite the agency's snail-like pace in approving everything from new drugs and medical devices to food additives (including direct-contact food packaging) and health and nutrient content claims on food labels.

One solution being offered is to allow third-party review of approval submissions. FDA would certify the third parties and have final say in approvals. John R. Block, president of Food Distributors International (FDI), told the House Commerce Committee in early May that allowing alternative review procedures for approving health and nutrient content claims on packaging would improve consumer access to truthful and nonmisleading information about foods. Block, a former Agriculture Secretary, testified in support of H.R. 3200, introduced by Rep. Scott Klug (R-WI). The bill establishes an accredited third-party review procedure for food additives and health and nutrient content claims and simplifies the procedure for direct contact food packaging. Among its other provisions, the bill prohibits FDA from requiring separate disclosures for a method of production of an ingredient other than in the statement of ingredients. Consumers have misinterpreted disclosures such as "irradiated" to be warnings, said Block.

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