FDA tightens diet supplement labeling rules

June 15, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- In a controversial decision, the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that manufacturers must have scientific proof of the benefits of dietary supplements -- vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutritional substances -- before they can make health claims on product labels.

The decision holds the dietary supplement industry to the same standards the agency set for health claims about food.

The new rules, which are subject to public comment before they become final in 60 days, mean that scientific experts must agree about the value of a supplement before the manufacturer may place the information on a label.

The rules also will require labels for dietary supplements to carry the same kinds of nutritional information as processed foods, including the amount of nutrients in a serving and the percentage of daily requirements a serving provides.

"FDA's goal is simple: We want people to have access to products that are safe, and we want to assure consumers that claims made about the health and nutritional benefits are truthful," FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler said in a statement. The action was praised by consumer groups, who have sought truth in advertising on the benefits of supplements, but it was criticized by the $4 billion-a-year supplement industry, which contends it will rob consumers of information about products.

But J. B. Cordaro, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry group, argued that the regulations "are choking off the flow of information to the public.

"If the evidence suggested that an increased consumption of antioxidants was helpful in preventing certain types of cancer, we should be able to provide the state of evidence with caveats," he said.

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