Study on physical activity calorie equivalent labeling

An interesting study on potential effect of physical activity calorie equivalent labeling on parent fast food decisions was recently published by Anthony J. Viera, MD, MPH and Ray Antonelli on the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here below you can find the abstract:

OBJECTIVES: Menu labels displaying food energy in physical activity calorie equivalents (PACE) is a possible strategy to encourage ordering meals with fewer calories and promoting physical activity. Potential effects of such labeling for children have never been examined.

METHODS: We conducted a national survey of 1000 parents randomized to 1 of 4 fast food menus: no labels, calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles needed to walk to burn the calories. Respondents were asked to imagine they were in a fast food restaurant and place an order for their child. At the survey’s conclusion, all respondents were shown a calorie-only label and both PACE labels and asked to rate the likelihood each label would influence them to encourage their child to exercise.

RESULTS: We excluded respondents whose meals totaled 0 calories or .4000 calories, leaving 823 parents in the analysis. The mean age of the child for whom the meal was “ordered” was 9.5 years. Parents whose menus displayed no label ordered an average of 1294 calories, whereas those shown calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles ordered 1066, 1060, and 1099 calories, respectively (P = .0001). Only 20% of parents reported that calories only labeling would be “very likely” to prompt them to encourage their children to exercise versus 38% for calories plus minutes (P , .0001) and 37% for calories plus miles (P , .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: PACE labeling may influence parents’ decisions on what fast food items to order for their children and encourage them to get their children to exercise.

FDA Warning Letter – “Healthy” products

This is an interesting example of warning letter issued by the FDA. It gives not only some indications about the use of the term “healthy”, but examines also other profiles of non compliance about allergens (“Contains…”).
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the label for your Dark Chocolate PlumSweets product in July 2014. Based on our review, we have concluded that this product is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) (21 U.S.C. § 343) and regulations found in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 101 (21 CFR 101). You can find the Act and FDA regulations through links on FDA’s home page athttp://www.fda.gov.
 
Your Dark Chocolate PlumSweets product is misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(1)(A)] because the product label bears a nutrient content claim, but the product does not meet the requirements to make such a claim.
 
Under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act, a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient which is of the type required to be in the labeling of the food must be made in accordance with a regulation authorizing the use of such a claim. Characterizing the level of a nutrient in the labeling of a food product without complying with the specific requirements pertaining to nutrient content claims for that nutrient misbrands the product under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act.
 
Specifically, the label of your Dark Chocolate PlumSweets product bears an implied nutrient content claim, because it bears statements suggesting that the product may be useful in maintaining healthy dietary practices and those statements are made in connection with claims or statements about nutrients. Specifically, the label of your Dark Chocolate PlumSweets product bears the claim “deliciously sweet and healthy diced plums…” in connection with the statements “Indulge in the Ultimate Antioxidant treat…” and “Dried Plum Whole Fruit Antioxidants + Decadent Dark Chocolate Goodness = The Ultimate Antioxidant Snack.” In the context of this label, FDA considers the claim “deliciously sweet and healthy diced plums…” to be an implied claim about the food itself. However, this product does not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy” that are set forth in 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2).
 
In accordance with 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2), you may use the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label or in the labeling of a food provided that the food, among other things, is “low saturated fat” as defined in 21 CFR 101.62(c)(2) (i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 g or less per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and no more than 15 percent of the calories are from saturated fat).
 
According to the Nutrition Facts panel, your product contains 5 g of saturated fat per 40 g serving of the food. This amount exceeds the maximum of 1 g of saturated fat per RACC for the food and the maximum of 15% of calories from saturated fat in the “low saturated fat” definition. Accordingly, your product does not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy” on a food label [21 CFR 101.65(d)(2)]. Your product is thus misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act.
 
The above violations are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of violations that may exist in connection with your products or their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that your products comply with the Act and its implementing regulations. You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct the violations may result in regulatory action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction. 
 
In addition, in accordance with section 403(w) of the Act, when a food manufacturer opts to use the word “Contains” followed by the name of the food source from which the major food allergen is derived, this information must be placed immediately after or adjacent to the list of ingredients. The “Contains” statement on your product label is placed at the bottom of the information panel after various printed information such as how to store the product and other non-mandatory labeling information.
 
Please respond to this letter within 15 working days from receipt with the actions you plan to take in response to this letter, including an explanation of each step being taken to correct the current violations and prevent similar violations. Include any documentation necessary to show that correction has been achieved. If you cannot complete corrective action within 15 working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the correction”.
(Source: FDA Website)