FDA's goals for the remainder of 2004 are to continue updating the food Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to enhance food safety and to introduce several anti-obesity measures. Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford said he hopes the agency can release proposed new GMPs by the end of the year.

Anti-obesity efforts, meanwhile, could result in changes to the way food manufacturers label content.

Crawford said FDA plans to publish a proposed rule this fall for food manufacturers to establish regulations for nutrient content claims related to a food's carbohydrate content. These new regulations will define the use of "low carbohydrate," "reduced carbohydrate," and "carbohydrate-free," which are all currently prohibited.

Crawford said FDA "intends to move forward" on the recommendation to highlight the caloric amount and serving size on the food label. This could mean larger lettering sizes and adding a daily value percentage for calories.

Pyramid brings power to labels

Food manufacturers are urging USDA to allow them to use a graphic on food labels that would tell consumers how a particular product fits into the food pyramid. In formal comments to USDA, John Cady, president of the National Food Processors Association, said food manufacturers must be allowed to use a graphic to illustrate to consumers how the food products they purchase fit the government's food guidance system.