Wellness Foods HealthBites: April 2007

What's happening in the world of nutrition and health.

Five's the Minimum

On March 19 the Produce for Better Health Foundation introduced the next generation of the 5-A-Day program, " Fruits and Vegetables -- More Matters." "This is a positive message tailored to help Americans include more fruits and vegetable into their diet," says Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa's World Variety Produce and More Matters marketing committee member. "It is designed to align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

FDA Feeling Its Oats

FDA proposes to amend the regulation authorizing a health claim on the relationship between soluble fiber from certain foods and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The amendment would exempt certain foods from the nutrient content requirement of "low fat.'' The exemption would apply if the food exceeds this requirement due to fat content derived from whole oat sources. FDA is taking this action in response to a petition submitted by the Quaker Oats Co. The amendment would expand the use of this health claim to some whole oat products that are currently ineligible because these foods exceed the amount of fat usually required for "low fat" foods. Quaker Oats Co. said in its petition that the fat comes from whole oat sources. Submit comments by April 23, 2007.

Portable Foods Health Claim Finalized

The FDA finalized a rule allowing smaller handheld foods -- until now prohibited from using the word "lean" on their labels -- to begin adding the term, reports Supermarket News. Foods like pizza slices, burritos and egg rolls can be classified "lean," provided they meet the FDA's requirements: fewer than eight grams of total fat, no more than 3.5 mg of saturated fat, and fewer than 80 mg of salt per serving. FDA said such products deserve the opportunity to market themselves as lean because they "have found their way into the American diet and serve as a convenient 'meals-on-the-go' eating option that is consistent with America's changing lifestyle." The agency also noted that small, portable foods have become a standard purchase for most consumers, and "FDA believes that portable food products, particularly those that are nutrient- and portion-controlled, serve a useful purpose in assisting consumers in selecting a diet that is consistent with current dietary recommendations."

Health Claim for Bottled Fluoridated Water

The FDA will allow bottlers of fluoridated water to make the health claim that drinking bottled water with fluoride prevents cavities. There is a caveat; the claim is not intended for use on bottled water marketed to infants. Many bottled waters already contain fluoride, and by law are labeled as such. About two-thirds of the U.S. population that relies on public water systems gets fluoridated water from the tap, but the surge in popularity of bottled water has led dentists and others to fear that people, especially children, who avoid tap water and drink exclusively non-fluoridated bottled water, face a greater risk of developing cavities. People who live in communities with fluoridated drinking systems have 15 percent to 40 percent less decay, according to the surgeon general.

Clarification of Health Claims

The FDA is reminding manufacturers and distributors of conventional food products about the different types of labeling claims available for use and how these claims are regulated by the Agency. A letter from Barbara O. Schneeman, Ph.D, director, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, reminds food manufacturers claims appearing on conventional food labels and labeling generally fall into the following categories: health claims, structure/function claims, nutrient content claims, and dietary guidance. For specific rules, go to http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/labfdama.html.

New Guidelines for Canadians

Health Canada, the Federal department responsible for the country's health, updated the country's food guide for the first time in over a decade, reports Decision News Media. Developed after consultation with 7,000 nutrition experts, including dietitians, scientists, doctors and researchers, the new guidelines encourage Canadians to focus on vegetables and fruit (eight servings), whole grains (four grain and four whole grain) and include milk and meat and their alternatives (two servings), and limit foods that are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt. It also recommends regular physical activity and a vitamin D supplement for Canadians 50+. As in the U.S., there is an interactive web component -- My Food Guide -- for diet personalization.

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