Posted August 29, 2013
Politico reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has submitted paperwork required to launch a study on whether fortified snack foods and drinks cause consumers to believe that substituting them for more nutritious food ensures a healthy diet.
 The Politico article, available here, mentions drinks like “Vitamin Water, which along with vitamins A, B, and C also has 33 grams of sugar” and snacks like “Girl Scout cookies, which are fortified with vitamins A, B, C, D, and E and claim to be a ‘delicious way to get your vitamins’” would be part of the study.
 According to the Federal Register notice, available here, the study would use a 15-minute web-based questionnaire to collect information from 7,500 adult members of an online consumer panel.  Participants would view mock labels and answer questions about their perceptions and reactions.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association spokewoman, Ginny Smith, said that her organization “shares the FDA’s commitment to helping consumers achieve and maintain a healthful diet by providing a variety of products, tools and information.”  Beth Johnson, a dietitian speaking on behalf of the Snack Food Association “said she also sees value in FDA’s study” but “consumers are pretty savvy and if we give them the information, they can make their decision.”
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act gives FDA authority to issue regulations that require almost all packaged foods to include nutrition labeling.  The law also allows manufacturers to provide other nutrition information including health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims.  FDA’s policy on fortification, 21 C.F.R. § 104.20, is available here.
For more information on food labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website, here.