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FDA perspectives on health claims for food labels

, : FDA perspectives on health claims for food labels. Toxicology 221(1): 35-43

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulatory authority over health claims was clarified in 1990 legislation known as the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). This law established mandatory nutrition labeling for most foods and placed restrictions on the use of food label claims characterizing the levels or health benefits of nutrients in foods. NLEA set a high threshold for the scientific standard under which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may authorize health claims, this standard is known as the significant scientific agreement (SSA) standard. Subsequent legislation known as the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA) provided an alternative to FDA review of the health claim where an U.S. government scientific body other than FDA concluded that there is SSA for a substance/disease relationship. Courts have since extended the scope of health claims to include qualified health claims (QHC) that are health claims not substantiated on evidence that meets the level of SSA standard, but include a qualifying statement intended to convey to the consumer the level of evidence for the claim. FDA has responded by developing an evidence-based ranking system for scientific data to determine the level of evidence substantiating a health claim. The following is an overview of FDA's regulations and evidence-based method for evaluating health claims.


PMID: 16480811

DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2005.10.023

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