Video Transcript: The FDA and Mislabeled Food
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits the mislabeling of food and beverages sold in the United States, and it empowers the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, to serve as a watchdog over the food and beverage industry. Over the years, the FDA has developed thousands of highly technical regulations that cover everything from how meat is graded to the percentage of juice required for a beverage to claim that it contains fruit. We are probably most familiar with the FDA through the ingredient and nutrition information we see on cereal boxes, canned food, and other food packaging.
The FDA doesn’t, however, regulate what a manufacturer says about its products such as phrases like “all natural” and “farm fresh.” Equally insidious is where a manufacturer represents that a product contains something it does not, such as when a label says the product contains 100% olive oil when in fact, it also includes various amounts of residual chemicals that were used in the manufacturing process. These types of representations can be deceptive because consumers have no way of determining the content of products for themselves. Even sophisticated laboratories have trouble deconstructing food products if they don’t know what they are looking for.
As we’ve investigated complaints about misleading food labels, some of the best leads we’ve received are from other food producers who believe their competitors’ products are full of undisclosed chemicals or fillers. Not only is it wrong for companies to sell food products that don’t accurately describe their ingredients, but many times those companies use cheaper ingredients to undercut competitors who do play by the rules.