Editor's Note: Health hits the fan in the long hot summer

August 6, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Health hits the fan in the long hot summer

In July, FDA announced that by January 1, 2006, food labels will be required to list the amount of trans fat to give consumers better information when choosing what to eat. FDA expects the new labels to help reduce the costs of illness and disease by $900 million to $1.8 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

During the same time period, FDA released a final guidance document describing a process for evaluating and ranking the scientific evidence for a qualified health claim. The new system will categorize the quality and strength of evidence through an A, B, C, D grading system. The highest grade means that there is significant scientific agreement about the health claim. According to FDA, a current example of a “Grade A” is the claim relating calcium to reduced risk of osteoporosis.

At the beginning of July, the Harvard School of Public Health teamed up with an organization called TIAX to talk about the American diet. With FDA Commissioner McClellan as its keynote speaker, the forum’s challenge was to figure out how to make healthier diets more appealing to the American public. Over 100 industry representatives (including McDonald’s, Heinz, Campbell Soup Co., and Dole Food Co.), academia and government came to the following conclusions:

  • Both consumers and industry are confused by conflicting health messages.
  • Companies that make their money from food can’t be expected to take a leadership role in educating consumers on what to put in their bodies.
  • Government can’t step in until it has clear scientific data to support new health decisions.
  • Companies have introduced healthier foods, but consumers don’t buy them.
  • Consumers judge value as portion size, making a move toward smaller servings difficult.
  • In an industry with razor thin margins, slight increases in per serving costs can have dramatic implications.
  • The costs of obesity may cause higher health insurance premiums for everyone.
  • Reformulating foods to be lower in sugar, salt or trans fatty acids would require a shift in consumer habits that could take years.
  • With growing momentum to bring lawsuits against food manufacturers, the time to act is now.

Also last month, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky introduced a bill to protect the food industry from liability claims that food products are responsible for causing weight gain or obesity in consumers.

And they say July is a slow month? Not so for the food industry. All of these actions are a step in the right direction to keeping the food industry, as well as our nation, healthy.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Joyce Fassl, Editor-in-Chief

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

FE September 2014

2014 September

The September 2014 issue of Food Engineering explores how lean manufacturing, quality improvements and increased automation helps processors meet rapidly changing demands. Also, read how robotics, advanced machine controls, software and OEE are just a few of the tools that can boost productivity on packaging lines.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +