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COPE readies consumer survey

In response to a petition from the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), FDA has proposed several changes in its food labeling regulations. After reviewing all its health claims rules, the agency is poised to propose simplified, flexible model claim language for some of the existing longer health claims.

FDA wants to permit--under certain conditions--abbreviated, truthful and non-misleading health claims, as long as they refer consumers to a complete health claim elsewhere on the label.

FDA also has proposed allowing synonymous nutrient content claims on food labels, provided they are presented on the label adjacent to a defined term.

Raw and processed fruits and vegetables, enriched cereal grain products and enriched bread with standards of identity will be exempt from the "jelly bean" rule, which prohibits health claims on foods not containing at least 10% daily value per serving of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, protein or fiber. The agency said it will consider whether other types of foods, such as formulated products, should also be exempt.

FDA denied NFPA's request to permit health claims to be considered presumptively valid based on scientifically authoritative third parties, saying it does not have legal authority to approve such a change. NFPA has developed draft legislation to address health claims changes that FDA lacks authority to make. Other, broader FDA reform legislation is being circulated on Capitol Hill.

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