The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on baby food manufacturers and other companies for misleading nutrition labeling on their products, the beginning of a larger effort to set stricter standards for the labels.
The FDA sent warning letters to 17 food companies — including Nestle, which produces Gerber's baby food — for violations it says include unauthorized claims about health, nutrient contents and terms such as "healthy."
The agency rapped Nestle for making health claims on Gerber carrots for babies and Gerber Graduates puffs because "appropriate dietary levels have not been established for children in this age range," according to the warning letters. The puffs containers claim that the product is "good source of iron, zinc, and Vitamin E."
Several other companies that produce baby food, such as Beech-nut, First Juice, Inc., Want Want Foods and PBM Products, received similar letters.
The agency said in October that nutritional labels from food manufacturers may be misleading consumers about the actual health benefits of cereal, crackers and other processed foods and sent a letter to companies saying it would begin cracking down on inaccurate food labeling. On Wednesday, the agency said it will soon propose new guidelines for calorie and nutrient labeling on the front of food packages.
In the letter to manufacturers, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said access to reliable information is important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States.
Companies have 15 business days to inform the FDA of the steps they will take to correct the labels.