Web site info an extension of labeling

Claims for food products made on Web sites need to be scrutinized as carefully as if they were printed on packages or labels. So claims Betty Campbell, AAC Consulting Group (Rockville, MD) in remarks this month at the 13th annual conference and exposition of the International Fresh-Cut Produce Assn., Alexandria, VA.

Campbell, a 35-year veteran of the Food and Drug Administration, says that both FDA and the Federal Trade Commission regard Web site content as an extension of the product label, if the Web site address is displayed on the label. “There’s a debate on where to draw the line between labeling and advertising,” she says. “So a Web site is a potential problem for every company subject to FDA regulation.”

Companies found in violation for claims will receive a warning letter from FDA. Campbell characterizes the letter itself as a stiff penalty “because it’s public information and detrimental to a company’s reputation.” Subsequent penalties could include seizures of shipments of misbranded foods and prohibiting a company from doing business.

Campbell joined Marie-Claude Thibault of the Canadian Produce Marketing Assn. who discussed the varying regulations, especially in nutrition labeling, of produce labeling in Canada versus the United States. Also speaking at the Los Angeles conference was Cryovac’s Myra Hughes, who identified the correct packaging materials for foods that are to be microwaved. —AO

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