Tuesday, October 14, 2008

GAO reports on food labeling

A report (.pdf) by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that federal food label regulators are not keeping up with the growth in food products.
FDA’s oversight and enforcement efforts have not kept pace with the growing number of food firms. As a result, FDA has little assurance that companies comply with food labeling laws and regulations for, among other things, preventing false or misleading labeling. Specifically:

* FDA does not have reliable data on the number of labels reviewed; the number of inspections, which include label reviews, has declined. For example, of the tens of thousands of foreign food firms in over 150 countries, just 96 were inspected by FDA in 11 countries in fiscal year 2007—down from 211 inspections in 26 countries in 2001.

* FDA’s testing for the accuracy of nutrition information on labels in 2000 through 2006 was limited. FDA could not provide data for 2007.

* Although the number of food firms in FDA’s jurisdiction has increased, the number of warning letters FDA issued to firms that cited food labeling violations has held fairly steady.

* FDA does not track the complete and timely correction of labeling violations or analyze these and other labeling oversight data in routine reports to inform managers’ decisions, or ensure the complete and timely posting of information on its Web site to inform the public.
GAO does offer up some solutions. See the recommendations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Owners, operators, or agents in charge of domestic or foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States are required to register the facility with the FDA.

Domestic facilities are required to register whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce.

Foreign facilities that manufacture/ process, pack, or hold food also are required to register unless food from that facility undergoes further processing (including packaging) by another foreign facility before the food is exported to the United States. However, if the subsequent foreign facility performs only a minimal activity, such as putting on a label, both facilities are required to register.

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