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Food label info accurate, says FDA

Most food marketers use accurate data in the Nutrition Facts panels that began to appear on packages earlier this year. So reported Dr. David Kessler, FDA commissioner, in mid-December about a random sampling of 300 products taken off grocery store shelves.

FDA tests found that of the nutrients measured (fat, sodium, vitamins, etc.) 87% of the label statements were accurate. In fact, the accuracy rate for fat content was said to be 94%, just ahead of the 93% accuracy for calories.

Statements on branded products may be largely accurate, but a consumer group questioned the facts shown for products produced locally. Bonnie Liebman of the Center for Science in the Public Interest showed survey results that indicate that locally-produced foods are more likely to misrepresent nutrient content. In one case cited, a New York bakery was selling allegedly fat-free muffins that contained 10 to 20 grams of fat. Thus, Liebman says, consumers "still can't trust claims on foods they get at local bakeries or delis."

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