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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Functional Foods

When buying packaged food, read the small print. The bold claims and graphics on the front of the box are often contradicted by the nutrition facts on the back.

My Mother sent me a fascinating NY Times(5.15.11) article "Food With Benefits, or So They Say," by Natasha Singer. The article identifies a new category of  "functional foods" packaged with "healthy" claims.

The FDA prohibits foods from being marketed like drugs. Activia, and who can't sing the tune, crossed the line with their claim of  "improved transit time" and the FTC, which oversees food advertising, made them remove the phrase. They also removed the yellow arrow. Dannon did not disclose that studies show you need to eat yogurt three times a day to improve your digestion. You wonder why when they might have sold even more yogurt with truthful labeling.

The article provides several other interesting case studies including Eclipse Mints, Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats, and POM Wonderful. Bottom line according to Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA, "misleading 'healthy' claims continue to appear on foods" that are not healthy.

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