Redefining food labels

The product inside may be more healthful or taste as good, but a package bearing a name like "meat product" or "peanut butter substitute" isn't likely to be as accepted as "bologna" or plain "peanut butter." As the food industry continues to develop new variations of old staples that are more in keeping with the public's desire for more nutritious and convenient foods, the U.S.

Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are contemplating changes to their regulations that establish standards of identity for various foods. Some exemptions already have been permitted. For example, "ice milk" now can be called "low fat ice cream." But obtaining exemptions is a costly and time consuming process, both for manufacturers and regulating agencies. FDA has given notice that it intends to review its standards of identity policies and has asked for public comment on whether or how this should be done.

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