Monday, March 29, 2010

Proposed Free Speech About Science A...

Peter M. Jaensch, in his blog post Proposed Food Labeling Changes May be Hard for Pharmaceuticals to Swallow, provides a snapshot introduced H.R. 4913–-the Free Speech About Science Act of 2010, which would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to expand disease and health-related claims in the labeling of some foods and dietary supplements. The bill would also add a new subsection to FD&C Act to permit certain claims "to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent a specific disease or class of diseases" in labeling for dietary supplements. These changes, Jaensch notes, "would permit food and dietary supplement manufacturers to make claims similar to those typically made for drug products, without subjecting them to the same degree of oversight or requiring the same depth of scientific analysis."

More efficient methods of food-recall notices needed

MSU professor Ewen Todd discussed food recalls at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting. "As our food supply becomes increasingly global and interconnected, food recalls that were largely regional in the past have the potential of injuring vast numbers of consumers across the United States in relatively short periods of time," Todd said. "For this reason, time is of the essence in delivering targeted recall messages to consumers through various means to reduce the risk of illness. Direct phone calls, e-mail messages and even Facebook are now being explored for a more targeted approach, as opposed to the more traditional media and word of mouth."

Menu Nutrition Labeling and Consumer Choices

Information is beginning to come in on the effect of providing nutrition information on menus in chain restaurants. The result is consumers make lower calorie selections.  Here are some of the studies and commentaries:
The Stanford Graduate School of Business study, Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants, looked at the effect of mandatory calorie posting on Starbucks stores in New York City. Customers averaged six percent less calories per transaction.
An Atlantic article, Calorie Labeling Works, II, which also references New York City health department's Preliminary  Data from New York City , and a Yale study, Evaluating the Impact of Menu Labeling on Food Choices.
Nutrition Menu Labeling May Lead to Lower-Calorie Restaurant Meal Choices for Children in Pediatrics, which found that when nutritional information is available on menus, on average pick lower-calorie foods for their children. In BusinessWeek, Listing Calories on Fast-Food Menus Cuts Kids' Intake, quotes Dr. Pooja Tandon: "When parents are provided with calorie information they chose about 100 calories less [per meal] for their 3- to 6-year-old child compared to parents who didn't have that information."
The Wall Street Journal, Restaurants Begin to Count Calories, notes, "Restaurants from Applebee's to Starbucks are pushing new low-calorie menu items in an effort to attract customers who say they want healthier options.  Chain restaurants, traditionally known for peddling fatty food and sugary drinks, hope that offering healthier fare will give them a competitive advantage, especially with the prospect of a federal nutrition labeling law looming."