Too Good to Be True?
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on what amazing claims food manufacturers can make about their products.
Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project
I will admit to being the first to snatch up food items that promise antioxidants and scavenge free radicals – regardless of how little I understand them.
But now the federal government is putting tighter restrictions on what food manufacturers can say on their packaging about their products’ supposed benefits. Recently, The Los Angeles Times ran an article citing a claim made by Kellogg Co. that clinical studies had shown that eating Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal would improve kids’ attentiveness by 20 percent. But the study had been sponsored by Kellogg itself, and compared children who ate its cereal to those that ate no breakfast at all. Kellogg’s claim that their cereal was better than any other sort of breakfast was, therefore, misleading, ruled the Federal Trade Commission. Plus, the study’s findings actually showed that half the children did not improve at all after eating the cereal, and only one in nine kids demonstrated the 20 percent increase.
This isn’t the only example. In another case, the FTC is involved in a dispute with the maker of Pom Wonderful, Roll Global, which claims that drinking one glass of their pomegranate juice each day would help you “ace your EKG,” “cheat death” and “floss your arteries.” Among other claims: that the juice could prevent or reduce the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the FTC warned the company not to make claims until conclusive, randomized trials have been conducted.
In response, Roll Global claims that its “free-speech rights are being trampled” by the FTC, and that it has, in fact,” provided customers with relevant, qualifying information by describing studies as “initial” and “hopeful.”
Is it up to consumers to be aware of the code words that qualify studies as being inconclusive? Or is the FTC right to crack down on companies who could be misrepresenting the truth? Weigh in here.