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FDA to amend voluntary nutrition labeling regs

By staff reporter , 11-Aug-2006

The FDA plans to amend voluntary nutrition labeling regulations by updating the names and the nutrition labeling values for the 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits, vegetables and fish in the US.

It also plans on clarifying guidelines for the voluntary nutrition labeling of these foods.

The FDA said that availability of the updated nutrition labeling values in retail stores and on individually packaged raw fruits, vegetables, and fish will enable consumers to make better purchasing decisions to reflect their dietary needs.

The agency published a proposed rule on the voluntary nutrition labeling program in the Federal Register of March 20, 2002. It then established a comment period until 3 June 2005, to allow all interested parties the opportunity to review the proposals.

One comment, which supported the agency's efforts to establish accurate, meaningful nutrition information, requested that FDA post this information on its Web site and permit retailers who have developed Web sites to incorporate links from the retailer Web site to the FDA nutrition information.

The FDA agreed with this suggestion and has posted the nutrition labeling values on the Internet at

However, several comments expressed concern that the proposed changes to some of the nutrient values appear inconsistent from the USDA's Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR) and from its data source, the USDA National Nutrient Data Bank.

One comment suggested that whenever possible, the FDA should consider SR values in addition to the agency's own 95 percent prediction limit when determining label values.

The FDA agreed that some of its nutrient values differ from data found in the USDA SR and NNDB, but said that it did not agree that mean values from USDA databases are appropriate for nutrition labeling.

Another comment objected to FDA adjusting the total carbohydrate values where the sum of sugars and dietary fiber exceeded the value for total carbohydrate.

The comment stated that the sugar value should be adjusted when sugars and fibers exceed total carbohydrate, and the sugar values are from a different source than the proximate, fiber, and other nutrient values. This, the comment stated, would more accurately represent the sugar and carbohydrate content, as well as the caloric value, of the samples from which most of the nutrition labeling values have been derived.

The FDA however disagreed that the sugars value should be adjusted. It said that the sum of the sugars and dietary fiber values, which were derived from analytical data submitted by USDA, exceeded the value for total carbohydrate for cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and watermelon.

For these foods only, the FDA adjusted the value for total carbohydrate to reflect the sum of sugars and dietary fiber. As stated in the 2002 proposed rule, it considered this adjustment to be appropriate because the values for sugars and dietary fiber are determined by laboratory analysis, and therefore, are more accurate than the value for total carbohydrate, which is determined `by difference' (i.e., the weight remaining after subtracting the sum of the protein, fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight of the food).

The agency believes that it has complied with all of the applicable requirements.

The 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits are: Apple, avocado (California), banana, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plums, strawberries, sweet cherries, tangerine, and watermelon..

The 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables are: Asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, green (snap) beans, green cabbage, green onion, iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, mushrooms, onion, potato, radishes, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potato and tomato.

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