FDA to Study Vitamin Fortification Claims in Snack Foods
According to Politico, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed the necessary paperwork with the White House to begin a study into whether adding vitamins to sugary snacks and drinks leads consumers to purchase the products in place of more nutritious foods.
About the FDA’s Fortified Food Study
“If the study shows that consumers misunderstand [fortified food claims], then the FDA will have to do more enforcement and send out warning letters to snack food companies.” – Betty Campbell, food labeling expert with the EAS Consulting Group as published by Politico.
- The FDA wishes to conduct the study amidst rising concerns that labeling foods as being “fortified” with vitamins may alter consumer perception, thereby leading to consumers substituting snack foods for foods that ensure a healthier diet.
- The study will consist of a short, web-based questionnaire in which 7,500 participants will view labels and respond to inquiries about their perceptions of the products.
- The FDA currently has regulations against claims that added vitamins make a snack a healthy choice, but the regulations are seldom enforced.
- The study will be used by the FDA to determine the need for enforcement and to help prioritize current labeling issues.
Why the FDA Study is Necessary
- The FDA is opening the study due to concerns that trusting consumers may believe fortified foods are a healthy food alternative, and neglect truly nutritious foods like fruits and vegitables.
- A recent marketing claim by Girl Scout cookies, now fortified with vitamins A, B, C, D and E, states the snacks are a “delicious new way to get your vitamins” while containing 180 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat.
- Coca-Cola’s VitaminWater was recently at the center of a New York class-action lawsuit filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) who alleged the company violated state laws against deceptive advertising.
- VitaminWater is fortified with vitamins A, B, and C, but also contains 33 grams of sugar.
- The CSPI also recently settled a class-action lawsuit in California against the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group after the company fortified 7UP cherry soda with a small amount of antioxidants.
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