A.G. Urges Uniform Food Labeling Program to Fight Deceptive Claims

BALTIMORE (July 29, 2010) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on July 29 joined Attorneys General from 11 other States in filing comments with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding its proposed national voluntary front-of-package food labeling program. The Attorneys General’s comments urged the FDA to consider adopting a uniform labeling program for the front of food packages, to ensure that it provides unbiased nutritional information and encourages food manufacturers to offer healthier products. The Attorneys General further urged the FDA to require food package labeling to provide complete nutritional information—both good and bad—to help consumers make informed choices about the foods that they buy for themselves and their families.

The Attorneys General urged the FDA to follow specific principles in its labeling standards:

-- Transparency of underlying standards. Any national front-of-package labeling system should be based on publicly-available standards, including an updated version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, containing the best available nutritional criteria.

-- Applicability. Front-of-package labels should apply to as many foods as possible and not require payment by food manufacturers beyond a reasonable licensing fee.

-- Understandability. Labels should be readily understandable by people of varying educational levels, based on the best consumer research.

-- Helpfulness. Labels should be designed to facilitate informed and healthy consumer choices.

-- Uniformity. A national, uniform front-of-package label should be the sole nutritional label on the front of food packages. Competing graphics or messages may confuse or mislead consumers and undermine the effort to provide clear information.

The comments to the FDA were sent by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont.

Source: Office of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

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