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FDA: Packaged Foods' Health Claims Make Them Drugs

FDA: Packaged Foods' Health Claims Make Them Drugs

Could the breakfast staple, Cheerios, be classified as a drug? That's what the Food and Drug Administration is claiming, based on the product's labeling that it's "clinically proven to help lower cholesterol." On May 5, the FDA sent a warning letter to General Mills, the maker of Cheerios, charging that the cereal's cholesterol-lowering health claims violate federal law. It stated:

Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.

According to The Wall Street Journal, if General Mills wishes to keep the statements on the Cheerios box as is, the company has to file a new-drug application for the cereal. In a statement issued this morning, General Mills expressed that it will "look forward to discussing this with the FDA and to reaching a resolution."

While I agree that the FDA should be closely involved with health claims in consumer products, I can't help but wonder whether this is taking resources away from a larger problem in the FDA's hands: improving food safety in our country. Should packaged foods be able to make health claims, or does that render them drugs?


Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
Good job PR team
pink-pirate pink-pirate 8 years
I don't think food companies should make these claims, so I agree with the FDA. As for worrying about other things, it's not fair to think that everyone in the entire organization should be focused on one area. To deal with recalls and unsafe food, there needs to be a new agency as the existing ones are not equipped to handle them properly.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Wow, I totally agree that the FDA has better things to worry about. There's a huge recall practically every two weeks, and they're worried about Cheerios?
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Cheerios a drug? Well I do find Honey Nut Cheerios to be highly addictive - so yeah Cheerios are drugs.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Anything that we put into our bodies, by definition, is a drug. Each choice has consequences, whether immediate or sustained over time. I'd rather see the government focused on actual food safety.
specialksgurl specialksgurl 8 years
The companies should watch the health "claims" of their food products, but the EPA shouldn't threaten to classify them as drugs. That's ridiculous!
tiaramh tiaramh 8 years
Even though their claim might be true, you have be careful when marketing that way because There is always some one who will take the claim too literal and consume unhealthy portions, or who will want to take legal action when results arent what was expected. i believe such claims could lead some to stop viewing the food as a healthy breakfast and start viewing it as some miracle health cure. So i can understand their wanting to take caution with such a claim.
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
Yeah, I also kind of feel like they should have bigger things to worry about. Also, they've been saying that for years. Are they just now hearing about it? And are they going to say that every other cereal and oatmeal made with oat bran is a drug also? Because it's not like Cheerios is the only one...
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i never thought about that - but i'm sure that GM is going to figure out how to get around that one while still making the claim.
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