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February 24, 2010

Front-of-Package Food Labels: Public Health or Propaganda?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, New York, New York (Dr Nestle); and Optimal Weight for Life Program, Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Ludwig).

JAMA. 2010;303(8):771-772. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.179

At no point in US history have food products displayed so many symbols and statements proclaiming nutrition and health benefits. Front-of-package claims, often used in violation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations, have become ubiquitous in food marketing.1,2 Recently, the FDA embarked on an initiative to review front-of-package labeling and asked the Institute of Medicine to consider eventual recommendation of a single, standardized guidance system. Front-of-package labels may so thoroughly mislead the public that another option deserves consideration—eliminate all nutrition and health claims from the front of processed food packages while strengthening the Nutrition Facts Panel.

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