FDA Targets Hershey Over Nutrition Claims
After companies like Mrs. Smith's and Diamond Food, it is time for Hershey Co. to bear the brunt of the warning letter from the "Food and Drug Administration (FDA)." The official warning from FDA chides the company over the absence of nutritional information on its chocolate syrup products. The candy company is now in a fix over the demands made by FDA. Let's see why...
For starters, the FDA wants Hershey to remove the words like "plus" and "fortified" from the packaging of its products like Hershey's Syrup+Calcium and Syrup Sugar Free with Vitamin & Mineral Fortification. Michael W. Roosevelt, acting director of the "Office of Compliance" at FDA's "Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition", wrote to Hershey's in an official letter, "Based on our review, we have concluded that these products are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and the applicable regulations." He further wrote in the letter, sent to the company in February this year, "These products are misbranded...because the product labels bear nutrient content claims but do not meet the requirements to make the claims." Although written in February, the letter was released to the public only this week.
The Nutritional Claims
The FDA has informed Hershey that the nutritional content of its products does not meet the guidelines specified by the Administration for such words as "plus" and "fortified" to be used. As a result, the company was violating the FDA guidelines. According to FDA, for such words to be used on a food label, the quantity of vitamins and minerals should be at least 10% of the referenced daily intake. As is evident by now, Hershey's syrups do not meet such guidelines. What may have worked against Hershey is the fact that the FDA guidelines are not specific enough.
Well, for those who have been eating Hershey's products, especially its chocolate syrups, for decades, it is not difficult to fathom why FDA finds these products unhealthy. That is why, the Administration asked the company, earlier this year, to change its labels. The said letter was written on February 14, 2012 and it is not clear when it was sent to the company but that was in the month of February itself. The letter was finally made public through the FDA website on August 14, 2012. The FDA policies are clear about snacks, sugary foods, and carbonated beverages not being considered for fortification with vitamins and minerals. Since food products like sugary drinks are known to cause serious ailments, FDA insists that the companies should follow the guidelines laid down in this regard.
The company had 15 days to make a formal response to the FDA letter, in which the company had to outline the actions it intended to take to "correct these violations and prevent similar violations." Well, Jeff Beckman, Hershey's spokesman, informed the media, "It came down to a matter of the FDA believing that the chocolate syrup is a snack food, and that we believe it is more accurately categorized as a milk modifier, similar to products such as Ovaltine and Nesquik that have been fortified for decades." However, he informed that while the packaging of these products had been changed as per FDA suggestions, the product contents remained the same.
Well, hearing that would pacify the Hershey's fans who have been in love with the company's products for decades. There was a time Hershey got some accolades for bringing non-GMO products to Europe. However, that goodwill seems to have been exhausted now. Do you think the FDA guidelines would have some impact on the company's standing among the customers? And this is not the first time an industry has resisted FDA's warning. The dairy industry has rejected FDA's milk testing instructions. However, how far would Hershey go without complying to the authority's guidelines remains to be seen.