Call for uniform food safety label system

The multiplicity of different warning labels on food packages and other consumer products is confusing to consumers and, in many cases, has led consumers to discount or disregard the warnings, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

In comments submitted to the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) on its 2001 program priorities, FMI called on CFSAN to develop a “clear and coordinated policy for when and how warning labels are used on foods.” In addition, the agency should work with other food safety agencies to develop a more uniform design for warning labels.

Among other FMI recommendations were:

•The FDA should clarify its irradiation regulation to clearly permit the use of labeling that links irradiation with its benefits, for example, “irradiated to kill harmful bacteria.”

•The FDA should issue a guidance document on voluntary labeling of biotech foods.

•The FDA and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service should jointly develop a “Retail Advisory Committee” through which representatives from supermarkets, distribution, restaurant and food technology companies can provide guidance on the operational and practical food safety issues at the retail level.

GMA chimes in

The GMC had a long list of comments on CFSAN’s proposed 2001 program priorities. In the area of nutrition, health claims and labeling, the GMA said the agency should develop a final rule on trans fat labeling and should allow time for a changeover to new labels once the rule is finalized. It also recommended that resolution of two related fatty acid labeling petitions be given high priority. They are the relation of stearic acid to saturated fat and the impact of digestibility/availability on the declaration of total and saturated fat.

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