The Food & Drug Administration will define low carb and reduced carb, and issue guidelines for food labeling as early as this summer.
Grocery store shelves are filled with products claiming to be low in carbohydrates; however, some consumer packaged goods companies, like Kraft Foods, have been unwilling to tout such claims until the terms had been defined by the FDA.
FDA guidelines would give a single standard for how marketers measure carbohydrates, and specify exact levels that qualify a product as low carb or reduced carb, the FDA said. (Similar guidelines for “organic” food labeling launched in 2002.)
Grocery Manufacturers of America has asked the FDA to define low carb as nine grams of carbs per 100 grams of food. Consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest advocates that “low carb” mean six grams of carbs per 100 grams of food, and “reduced carb” apply to products with 25% fewer carbs than their original versions.
The FDA’s project is part of a broader obesity initiative that focuses on counting calories rather than carbs. A report issued last week by the FDA’s Obesity Working Group recommends increased enforcement of food labels to accurately portray serving size. The report also recommends more consumer education on healthy diet; requirements that restaurants list calorie and nutrition information; revised guidance on obesity drugs; and coordinated research to reduce obesity and develop healthier, low-cal foods.