Heath Claims Part 2-Historical Timeline

flickr photo from szb78 (I know this photo is a stretch, but I like it!)
Hello!  This is a continuation from Part 1, where I started a discussion on the food industry's use of health claims on food labels to increase consumer demand.  These posts are a brief synthesis of what I've been learning in my Public Policy of Health Claims class this semester.
Historical Timeline of US Health Claims Policy
It seems that humans have always associated food with limited healing properties, however nutrition science has just started to associate nutrition with disease states and health outcomes.  The growing research has fueled the development of health claims, and the food industry has health claims food labeling to increased consumer spending.  Meanwhile the government has swayed between stict and lax enforcement of health claims labeling.  Let me break it down.

before 1906-No reglation of food labels.
1906-Pure Food and Drug Act.  Congress makes a distinction between foods and drugs.  Drugs can make health claims relating to disease.  Foods cannot make any claims about disease.
1938-Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.  Lax enforcement of drug labeling combined with a drug toxicity tragedy (estimated death of 35,000 people) prompts the government to crack-down.  Drugs are required to follow strict labeling laws, and foods are still not allowed to claim any health benefits.  Any food that makes a "health statement" is considered a drug, and can be seized by the FDA.
1984-Kellogs makes first (unauthorized) health claim for food!  Kellog's All-Bran challenges FDA and uses the National Cancer Institute's dietary recommendations to produce an Anti-cancer advertisement.  How did Kellog's get away with this?  Both the FDA and the National Cancer Institute are part of the same Department of Health and Welfare, thus the FDA's hands are tied.  Kellog's, you are tricky!
1984-1990-FDA scrambling to revise their stance on health claims.
1990-Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. Congress says health claims are allowed!  But only under strict conditions.  Any health claim on a package must first be approved by the FDA, and documented in their Federal Register.  This is when the Nutrition Facts Label was created.
1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA).  The supplement industry decides to make some noise, and the government grants them the ability to use health claims, without FDA regulation.  (Yup, so that's why there's no government control on all your vitamin pills.)  Since the food industry is jealous, the FDA consoles them by allowing the use of "Structure-function claims" on food labeling.
1997 Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act.  Government creates a new labeling option fo the food industry, called "authoritative statement claims."  This is good news for the food industry.
1999 Pearson vs. Shalala court case.  Dietary supplement industry cites breaches of freedom of speech.  Government allows dietary supplement industry to use Qualified Health Claims on their labels.
2003-Qualified Health Claims allowed for food. 
2010 and beyond?  The recent Smart Choices fiasco and the newly appointed Institue of Medicine's Front of Package Labeling committee seems to point to a new era of stricter government regulation.
*whew.  Anyone still onboard?*
My study notes!  I'm one of those kinesthetic learners, and have to re-writing everything.
Flip the Page...some more reading!
February 2010 Institue of Medicine's newly appointed committee for Front of Package Labeling
December 2009 CSPI's Nutrition Facts Panel Makeover
October 2009 New York Times- Smart Choices Food Labeling Loses Support
May 2009 Wall Street Journal- FDA Cracks Down on Cheerios' Health Claims
from one of my professors: U.S. Food Policy blog


Anonymous said...

I love to picture you put in this post. That is a lot of info to have to retain. I also learn better by rewriting things. All of your posts get me excited to take the classes directly related to being an RD. Keep up the good work!

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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