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Dietary supplement labeling moves forward

Health claims on dietary supplement labels should continue to be approved the same way as for conventional foods, according to a draft report issued by the President's Commission on dietary supplement labeling.

But, the Commission said, unlike food products, health claims for supplements shouldn't have to require unanimous or near-unanimous agreement within the scientific community in support of the evidence backing up such claims. The Commission also developed guidelines for acceptable statements of nutritional support-claims linking foods or nutrients with growth, health, or well-being, but not with a specific disease or dysfunction. The Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA) allows these claims, provided they can be substantiated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is notified, and the label bears a disclaimer stating that the product "has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." The Commission called for more consumer research on dietary supplement labels to ascertain whether the information is useful. Comments on the draft report were accepted until August 4, with a final report expected by September. FDA must issue a notice of proposed rulemaking within 90 days of the final report and must finalize its rules within two years.

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