by Marion Nestle
Aug 26 2013

FDA study: Do added nutrients sell products? (Of course they do)

The FDA has announced that it will be studying the effects of nutrient-content claims on consumers attitudes about food products.

FDA does not encourage the addition of nutrients to certain food products (including sugars or snack foods such as [cookies] candies, and carbonated beverages). FDA is interested in studying whether fortification of these foods could cause consumers to believe that substituting fortified snack foods for more nutritious foods would ensure a nutritionally sound diet.

Here’s one of my favorite examples of what the FDA is talking about.

New Picture

 

I’m guessing the FDA’s new research project is a response to increasing pressure from food companies to be allowed to add nutrients to cookies, candies, and soft drinks.

Food marketers know perfectly well that nutrients sell food products.  The whole point of doing so is to be able to make nutrient-content claims on package labels.

The FDA has never been happy about the practice of adding nutrients to junk foods just to make them seem healthy.   Its guidance includes what is commonly known as the “jelly bean rule.”   You may not add nutrients to jelly beans to make them eligible to be used in school lunches.

But this does not stop food manufacturers—especially soft drink manufacturers—from trying.  Hence: Vitamin Water (now owned by Coca-Cola).

Plenty of research demonstrates that nutrients sell food products.  Any health or health-like claim on a food product—vitamins added, no trans fats, organic—makes people believe that the product has fewer calories and is a health food.

As I keep saying, added vitamins are about marketing, not health.

Comments

[...] FDA study: Do added nutrients sell products? (Of course they do) [...]

  • Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD
  • August 26, 2013
  • 8:18 pm

Fortification of highly processed and adulterated food targets naive, gullible and sometimes ignorant consumers. Most diseases today are linked to poor metabolic health. There is a natural consequence that does not bode well for this business model.

  • ChurnYourOwn
  • August 28, 2013
  • 9:31 am

All the more reason to avoid any foods that make nutrition claims.

  • Library Spinster
  • August 29, 2013
  • 8:30 am

Sadly, adding nutrients does sell products.
As a consumer and a cynic I’ve learned to translate claims on labels.Something marketed as healthy and delicious is often neither. Low in sodium means less sodium than a salt lick, but not by much. All natural ingredients = several kinds of sugar. Low fat = high in carbs. X can promote health benefit Y–true, but not in the vanishingly small amounts found in (or added to) the product.

[...] FDA announced it is conducting a study on the effects of nutrient claims on consumers’ perception of a food’s [...]

[...] FDA study: Do added nutrients sell products? (Of course they do) <<Nutritionism in action. It’s not about health, it’s about marketing. (Food Politics) [...]

[...] The FDA announced it is conducting a study on the effects of nutrient claims on consumers’ perception of a food’s health. [...]

[...] Marion Nestle affirms in her post titled FDA study: Do added nutrients sell products? (Of course they do) that food marketers know perfectly well that nutrients sell food [...]

[…] August 2013, Marion Nestle published a blog post about FDA’s intention to study the effects of nutrient-content claims on consumers’ attitudes […]

[…] Sources: The Environmental Working Group The Journal of Nutrition NIH Food Politics […]

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