Organic: What's in a name? (1/262)

The organic foods industry is booming: by one estimate, the market for organic foods is worth $4 billion annually and is expected to grow at a rate of more than 24% per year. Faced with the threat of pesticide exposures and other food safety problems, many consumers are turning to organic foods in hopes of finding a healthy alternative, but there is currently no consistency in organic food labeling and no guarantee that foods labeled as organic are actually grown and processed in a purely organic fashion. There is also controversy about whether the label "organic" covers such new technologies as irradiation and genetic engineering. As part of the 1990 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to develop a proposed rule on organic foods. The rule would regulate the allowable methods, practices, and substances used in producing and handling crops and their processed products. The first draft of the proposed rule, released in December 1997, met with unprecedented opposition, which centered around the fact that the proposal appeared to virtually ignore the recommendations of a standards board formed to assist in the rule's development. Other criticism opposed three practices put forward for comment by the USDA: irradiation, genetic engineering, and the use of sewage sludge in farming. Due to the vehemence of the opposition to its original proposal, the USDA has decided to rewrite the proposed rule. In preparation for that proposal, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service released three issue papers in October 1998 for public comment. The 10,000-plus comments received in response to those papers will be incorporated into the second draft proposal, due out later this year.  (+info)

Health claims and observational human data: relation between dietary fat and cancer. (2/262)

The US Food and Drug Administration review that provided the basis for authorizing a food-label health claim linking the risk of cancer to dietary fat intake illustrated several considerations in the use of epidemiologic data, and observational data in particular, to support dietary recommendations. The review suggested the need for clear and established criteria for judging the quality of observational human data as well as the importance of making the evaluation process for individual studies transparent and organized. The review, which provided for a claim in the absence of controlled human studies, also suggested that observational data may play a greater role when the nature of the relation to be described by a health-claim statement is broad and general rather than targeted and specific. Of particular importance was the relevance of available data to the questions inherent in showing a diet-disease relation, the need to consider the totality of the evidence, and the key role that existing authoritative reports must play in establishing the basis for relation.  (+info)

Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status. (3/262)

Inulin and oligofructose are a significant part of the daily diet of most of the world's population. Daily intakes for the U.S. and Europe have been estimated at up to 10 g, specifically 1-4 g for the 97th percentile in the U.S. Because both inulin and oligofructose are macroingredients, it is difficult to apply classical toxicology tests. Although some high dose animal tests have been performed, none have revealed any toxic effects. The safety of inulin and oligofructose for use in foods was evaluated by many legal authorities worldwide. As a result, both inulin and oligofructose are accepted in most countries as food ingredients that can be used without restrictions in food formulations. In the U.S., a panel of experts performed a generally accepted as safe (GRAS) Self-Affirmation Evaluation in 1992 and concluded similarly. At high doses, increased flatulence and osmotic pressure can cause intestinal discomfort. These doses vary widely from person to person and also depend on the type of food in which inulin or oligofructose is incorporated. With regard to labeling, both inulin and oligofructose are gradually being accepted as "dietary fibers" in most countries around the world. The mention of their "bifidogenic effect" on food labels has also been legally accepted in several countries.  (+info)

Food safety knowledge and practice among elderly people living at home. (4/262)

OBJECTIVE: To assess the food storage knowledge and practice of elderly people living at home. METHODS: Three phase survey data collection: face to face interviews; dietary diaries with a food frequency questionnaire; and follow up interviews. SETTING: Urban Nottingham. PARTICIPANTS: 809 elderly people (aged 65+) randomly selected from general practitioner lists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondent's refrigerator temperature; knowledge of freezer star rating; understanding of "use by" and "sell by" dates; reported ability to read food product safety labels. RESULTS: From a weighted total of 645 refrigerators measured, 451 (70%) were too warm for the safe storage of food (> or = 6 degrees Celsius). Only 41% of respondents (n = 279) knew the star rating of their freezer. Within a smaller sub-sample knowledge of the "use by" and "sell by" dates was good, but 45% of these respondents reported difficulty reading food labels. The storage of foods at inappropriate temperatures was not independent of socioeconomic or demographic status, and tended to be more likely among the poorer and those not living alone. CONCLUSIONS: Food storage practices among the majority of elderly people interviewed in this study do not meet recommended safety standards to minimise the risk of food poisoning.  (+info)

The dietary guideline for sodium: should we shake it up? No. (5/262)

The current US dietary guideline for sodium is a limit of 2.4 g/d or 6 g NaCl/d. This amount of sodium is far in excess of any physiologic need and is likely an essential though not by itself sufficient primary cause of hypertension as well as a contributor to many other cardiovascular and renal abnormalities. The evidence incriminating the current excessive consumption of sodium derives from epidemiologic, experimental, and interventional data, most of which support a threshold of approximately 100 mmol/d for the harmful effects of sodium to be expressed. Although the current recommendation may not be low enough to go below that threshold, it is an appropriate and attainable goal for now.  (+info)

Functional foods: the Food and Drug Administration perspective. (6/262)

Because the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) does not provide a statutory definition of functional foods, the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to establish a formal regulatory category for such foods. The primary determinant of the regulatory status of a food is its intended use, which is determined largely by the label and labeling information accompanying the product. This information includes nutrient information, nutrient content claims, and various types of health claims. In marketing these foods, manufacturers may come under one of several existing regulatory options. The first decision manufacturers will make that will help determine their product's regulatory status is whether the product is a food or a drug. Thus, manufacturers and retailers have a range of legal and regulatory categories in which their products may be classified. This article describes the definitions provided in the FFDCA for a drug and a food, the safety and labeling requirements of various food categories, and types of possible claims for dietary supplements.  (+info)

Consideration of possible legislation within existing regulatory frameworks. (7/262)

Legislation on a particular food or on a particular claim to be used in connection with a food require a definition of the food and unequivocal requirements for the use of the claim. The definitions of prebiotics and probiotics presently place these terms between the categories for conventional foods and foods for special dietary uses. Because probiotics and prebiotics, as a group, do not fulfill the criteria for special dietary uses, they have to comply with the rules and laws for conventional foods even if the requirements for the use of the terms prebiotic and probiotic include effects on body functions. These effects on the health and wellness of the consumer and to stimulatory activity, eg, body defense mechanisms, can be used in claims that should underline the importance of the total dietary pattern. It is suggested that setting up rules for the use of the terms prebiotic and probiotic is preferable to creating new food standards.  (+info)

Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains: a challenge for consumers. (8/262)

The 2000 edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the first to include a specific guideline for grain foods, separate from fruits and vegetables, and recognize the unique health benefits of whole grains. This paper describes and evaluates major tools for assessing intakes of total grains and whole grains, reviews current data on who consumes grain foods and where, and describes individual- and market-level factors that may influence grain consumption. Aggregate food supply data show that U.S. consumers have increased their intake of grain foods from record low levels in the 1970s, but consumption of whole-grain foods remains low. Data on individual intakes show that consumption of total grains was above the recommended 6 serving minimum in 1994-1996, but consumption of whole grains was only one third of the 3 daily servings many nutritionists recommend. Increased intake of whole-grain foods may be limited by a lack of consumer awareness of the health benefits of whole grains, difficulty in identifying whole-grain foods in the marketplace, higher prices for some whole-grain foods, consumer perceptions of inferior taste and palatability, and lack of familiarity with preparation methods. In July 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a health claim that should both make it easier for consumers to identify and select whole-grain foods and have a positive effect on the availability of these foods in the marketplace.  (+info)