MISLEADING HEALTH CLAIMS ON FOOD PACKAGING REGULATED BY CANADIAN AND AMERICAN AGENCIES ARE RESTRICTIVE AND PROBABLY RIGHTLY SO.
But what happens when the products claim is arguably true? We learned that Dr. Bonner’s brand of coconut oil was sent a warning letter from the FDA last year telling them to remove wording on their label that referred to MCT’s positive effect on cholesterol, “Clinical research confirms that the saturated medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) in Virgin Coconut Oil, such as lauric acid, actually improve blood cholesterol by increasing the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol.” This health claim is backed by scientific evidence, as summarized in an article in Nutrition Review (link below) that references published scientific studies.
The problem with this kind of information on food labels, as the FDA puts it, is that someone might think that the product could be used for treating a specific health issue, as if it is a drug. The FDA’s letter goes on to say: “Your product is not recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, the product is a “new drug”…New drugs may not be legally introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from the FDA… Furthermore, your [product] is offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use this drug safely for its intended use. Thus, this drug is misbranded…”
Where do rules for public protection in regulation end and censorship of truthful claims begin? Why are there glaring double standards?
Packaging examples where claims made, seem to fit the definition of a natural health product: https://nhppa.org/SANDBOX/?page_id=9718
Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada guidelines for food and natural health product health claims are hard to navigate what is, or is not, allowable. Review links to see what the industry must work through: http://tiny.cc/0vtwtx http://tiny.cc/gxtwtx
In 2014, food law and criminal lawyer Genevieve Eliany looked into the marketing practice of Health Washing: http://tiny.cc/n0twtx
Warning letter from the FDA to David Bonner: http://tiny.cc/e1twtx
Nutrition Review summary on MCTs: http://tiny.cc/c2twtx