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WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has scheduled a public hearing to address the increased use of symbols by food manufacturers and retailers to communicate nutrition information on food labels.
The agency said the purpose of the hearing is to solicit information and comments about the growing use of nutritional labeling programs, and how that might be affecting consumer perception due to variances among programs.
“In recent years, domestic manufacturers and retailers have begun to include symbols that indicate nutritional quality on the label or in labeling of a food,” said FDA in a Federal Register filing announcing the plans for the hearing. “Symbol programs have been instituted by companies to promote their products and provide consumers with easily understandable nutrition information to aid them in their food purchases. Various food manufacturers, grocery stores, trade organizations, and health organizations have developed, or are currently developing, symbols and icons that indicate specific nutritional attributes of food products.
“Although each symbol intends to indicate that the food product bearing the symbol is a healthful choice, each symbol program has different nutrient requirements,” FDA said. “The selected nutrients and the nutrient levels required for eligibility vary among the different symbol programs in use. With the increasingly widespread availability of these symbols from manufacturers, retailers, and third party organizations, it is possible that eligible food products could bear multiple nutrition symbols.
The hearing will be held Sept. 10 and 11, 2007 in Adelphi, Md. For registration information, go to http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr070720.html. Comments may also be submitted through Nov. 12, 2007, to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, or online at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr070720.html.