Friday, January 09, 2009

Bad Labeling

Newman's Own Organics Takes Years to Respond to FDA

As I've been reporting ad nauseum, Wellshire Farms seems to have used inaccurate or misleading labels for years, hoping that it can get away with the practice, no matter the damage that might be done to children and other consumers.

Sometimes the FDA clamps down on bad labelers: In 2006, the agency actually confiscated French Meadow Bakery spelt bread that was marketed as wheat-free; French Meadow has since tried to make amends.

Food labels should be accurate and informative, but when it comes to bad labels, other possibilities exist between the two poles of getting busted or trying to get away with them. In December, Nature's Path undertook a "voluntary" recall of its Penguin Puffs cereal because the kamut was not identified as a form of wheat.

Companies may also get warnings from the FDA—but they might not respond promptly to the warnings. This can happen with companies that appear to very sensitive to consumer needs. I believe this was the case prior to the big French Meadow Bakery bust, but here's another examples: Apparently, the FDA issued a December 26, 2006 warning to Newman's Own Organics stating that the company failed to note the presence of wheat in its Spelt Pretzels, and then issued a December 22, 2008 warning letter noting that the problem had still not been addressed sufficiently. Newman's Own Organics now says that will change the packaging. But why does it take years for companies that market themselves as health-oriented to improve their poor labels, even after the FDA brings the problem to their attention?


Suzette said...

I noted a couple of years ago that somehow the "organics" arm of Newman's Own was way behind the mainstream Newman's Own brand in terms of labeling of gluten.

My understanding is that Nell (Paul's daughter) founded the Organics company, which is also noted on their website as "the second generation." All I know is that, from a labeling viewpoint, they have had little to do with one another.

I'm reminded of how many times I'll be in some natural foods store, asking if something is gluten free ... and the usual -- often annoyed -- answer that I will get is, "Everything here is organic." S-I-G-H. Talk about not clear on the concept ... and this is how I've felt for a very long time about Newman's Organics, trying very hard not to confuse them with the rather step-up-to-the-plate attitude of Daddy's brand.

The Naked Fork:

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