Marion Nestle Lobbies FDA for Ban on Front-of-Package Health Claims for Foods

Writing in the current issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), Marion Nestle argues that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should work through the courts or through Congress to ban misleading and dubious health claims that many foods—from breakfast cereals to sugared beverages—carry on their front labels.

Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU Steinhardt, and her co-author, Dr. David S. Ludwig, associate professor of pediatrics, Harvard University, argue in a JAMA commentary that since the 1990s, food marketers have offered a “bewildering array of increasingly remote health benefits” on front-of-package food labels.

Food manufacturers have in recent years lobbied Congress to permit front-of-package labels to carry health claims that are, according to Nestle and Ludwig, deceptive and misleading. The FDA is currently examining the issue.

“If health claims are allowed on food packages, they should be regulated according to rigorous, evidence-based national standards,” they write. “Because such standards are inevitably arbitrary and subject to manipulation, consideration should be given to an outright ban on all front-of-package claims.”

To read Nestle’s and Ludwig’s commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association, click here.

To watch a web interview with Professor Nestle in which she discusses obesity and the food industry, click below.