FDA OKs functional food

In what many observers think will be the first in a flood of new "functional foods," FDA gave a green light for the sale of Take Control, a new margarine manufactured by Lipton that in tests sharply lowered cholesterol.

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So-called functional foods are formulated to alleviate health problems, not just provide nutrients. FDA had struck a deal with Lipton and McNeil Pharmaceutical, which is preparing to market its cholesterol-reducing margarine, Benecol. As part of the agreement, the companies would submit their products for approval as conventional foods, and the agency would review them quickly. Under current regulations, package graphics for dietary supplements may contain structure/function claims that don't require FDA approval. However, copy on packaging for Take Control, which FDA wanted marketed as a food product, does make the claim "Helps promote healthy cholesterol levels as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol." Nevertheless, copy in small print below the claim reads, "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

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