It’s All About Authenticity

Posted by
October 20, 2011

By James J. Gormley

Authenticity is very important to most people….and most countries. But authenticity is an idea that our U.S.  government doesn’t seem to fully embrace.

When it comes to “consumer protection,” the laws and regulations tend to favor corporations instead of consumers. That’s one reason why so many of us spend way too much time standing in grocery store aisles reading food package labels.

According to Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), “Falsely describing, advertising or presenting food is an offence, and there are a number of laws that help protect consumers against dishonest labeling and misdescription.”

The FSA also says:  “Food authenticity is all about whether a food matches its description. If food is misdescribed, not only is the consumer being deceived, but it can also create unfair competition with the honest manufacturer or trader.”

This U.K. agency actually has a surveillance program devoted to food authenticity in which the agency carries out spot checks on foods to uncover and weed out adulteration and “misdescription.”

I don’t find the term “food authenticity” anywhere on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) labyrinthian website. And although I have not always been a fan of the U.K.  FSA’s positions, I really do like their active, and meaningful, use of this concept and of this term for regulatory review and enforcement, and I think our FDA should consider adopting this term.

There is a message here for U.S. regulators in encouraging the FDA to expedite its decision to deny the petition from the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to mislabel the ingredient high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as “corn sugar.”

Reference:

U.K. FSA. Understanding Food Labeling Rules. Available at: http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/regsscotland/ull/ Last accessed: October 13, 2011.