What are the Roles of Government in Food Labeling and Approvals?
You may be confused with what is good for you, as data seems ever changing. I know I sometimes still get overwhelmed with conflicting "studies" and "label claims". Not to mention I assumed there was integrity in what was on the food pyramid and labels. But, I have learned some useful tips that have helped me read between the lines and claims which I will share with you....
As you learn and understand FDA and USDA approved chemicals that are in our food supply after reading posts in my clean eating section you will wonder, "How the heck do they ALLOW that in our food? Aren't they the EXPERTS and their PURPOSE is to look out for my safety?" I used to assume if an ingredient was in a grocery store product for human consumption, it must have been tested, and safe by the strictest of standards. Sadly, that is not the case. Public nutrition policy is dictated by the political process, which is now heavily dictated by a corporate agenda to maximize PROFITS.
Profits are maximized by making food faster, bigger, prettier, last longer, easier and CHEAPER.
The food industry's greatest allies are in Congress. Its the JOB of these politicians to protect the interests of their own states and the "products" that generate their state's biggest revenues (and hence electoral votes). So, a senator from Texas will obviously support the cattle industry. A senator from Wisconsin is going to lobby and fight for dairy by not allowing any wording into government guidelines that will negatively effect his own states dairy industry. It's the USDA, politicians and corporations that shape the guidelines of what we what we should eat and what can go in our food, not science. The decisions are purely BIG BUSINESS.
As a former pharmaceutical drug rep for 10 years, I saw first hand many drugs get "FDA approval" with horrible clinical data and poorly designed trials. Why? Because BIG money talks by lining pockets of government decision makers. A certain pharma company is able to "$ lobby $" for FDA approval more than another with product better data and science. Part of my JOB, was to be trained in analyzing clinical studies, finding holes in it and sharing it to physicians. We all can probably recall drugs that were pulled from the market that we later learned should have NEVER been approved based on science. The same holds true with the food industry.
So my message to you is, to QUESTION EVERYTHING. Some information I will explain more in depth, in my blog. But most of it is from my training, former career, and nutritional schooling. I have also included a "Documentary" section to my blog (use search tab). These documentaries are loaded with more in depth topics and undercover investigations. If you disagree, (especially the blogs on meat and dairy) feel free to share your belief system and lets discuss it. We are here to LEARN and hopefully become a more educated and knowledgeable consumer. Consumer demand is what drives the market.
In questioning something, really process the deeper MOTIVATION. Which do you think generates the government and economy more revenue? Sick people needing and buying more medicines and procedures or healthy ones that rarely need to rely on care? Pharmaceutical companies need REPEAT customers.
What am I benefiting by sharing the internal motivations behind our "food pyramid" and approved chemicals in food? I benefit by knowing I may possibly help you and your family live a healthier and better quality of life. And possibly, hopefully, maybe even prevent or reduce disease. That's my deeper MOTIVATION.
Things the FDA does NOT approve:
FDA does not approve infant formula.
FDA does not approve infant formulas before they can be marketed. However, manufacturers of infant formula are subject to FDA's regulatory oversight.Manufacturers must ensure that infant formula complies with federal nutrient requirements. Manufacturers are required to register with FDA and provide the agency with a notification before marketing a new formula.
FDA does not approve dietary supplements.
Unlike new drugs, dietary supplements are not reviewed and approved by FDA based on their safety and effectiveness. Most dietary supplements that contain a new dietary ingredient (a dietary ingredient not marketed in the United States before October 15, 1994) require a notification to FDA 75 days before marketing.
The notification must include the information that was the manufacturer or distributor's basis for concluding that the dietary supplement will reasonably be expected to be safe. After dietary supplements are on the market, FDA evaluates their safety through research and adverse event monitoring.
FDA does not approve food labels, including Nutrition Facts.
FDA does not approve individual food labels before food products can be marketed. But FDA regulationsrequire nutrition information to appear on most foods, including dietary supplements. (so its required to HAVE nutrition facts, but what is SAID is not regulated) Also, any claims on food products must be truthful and non-misleading (however there is no policing the claims), and must comply with any special requirements for the type of claim. (Food companies are only required to disclose 80% of whats in the product. So if what IS showing isn't great, imagine what they are NOT showing you.) Manufacturers are required to provide the serving size of the food and information about the nutrient content of each serving on the "Nutrition Facts" panel of the food label (or on the "Supplement Facts" panel for dietary supplements.)
FDA does not reguire structure-function claims on dietary supplements and other foods.
Structure-function claims describe the role of a food or food component (such as a nutrient) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the human body. One example is "calcium builds strong bones."
Dietary supplement firms that make structure-function claims on labels or in labeling must submit a notification to FDA. This notification must be submitted no later than 30 days after marketing the dietary supplement with the structure/function claim. Additionally, the notification must include the text of the claim, as well as other information, such as the name and address of the notifier. FDA does not require conventional food manufacturers to notify FDA about their structure-function claims.
Structure-function claims on dietary supplements carry a disclaimer stating that the claim has not been reviewed by FDA, and that the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (where is that disclaimer? Usually on the back in small print).
Conventional foods are not required to carry such a disclaimer.
If you want to learn more about our food industry and its government relationship, a great documentary on NetFlix is Food, Inc.
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