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Health Claims on Food Packages Nudges Upwards

new products with health claims “No-gluten” and ‘No trans-fats” were among the most used health claims on food packages, with close to half of all new food products making at least one health and nutrition claim, a figure almost double that from ten years earlier, according to a recent government report.

The report tracked food products’ claims introduced from 1989 to 2010, beginning with the time period when Nutrition Labels became mandatory.  The labeling regulations legislation, which began in the early 1990s, also included rules for health and nutrition claims.

In 1989, approximately one-third of food products carried some claim, that figure dipped to a quarter in 2001, suggesting the regulations had an effect. New food products making health claims then rose to 43 percent in 2010.

Overall, each new food product was making an average of almost three health claims in 2010, a figure that nudged upwards slightly from 2001. The leading health- and nutrition claims in recent years related to gluten, antioxidants, and omega-3. Low/no calorie, whole grains, high fiber, and low/no sugar claims also accounted for the increase.

Source: Martinez, Steve W. Introduction of New Food Products With Voluntary Health- and Nutrition-Related Claims, 1989-2010, EIB-108, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, February 2013.

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