As unbelievable as it sounds, current law makes it illegal for food producers to share certain types of scientific information with you.
So when Diamond Food relayed health information about the omega-3 fats in walnuts on product packaging and also on their Web site, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attacked.
Even though the information was entirely true, and backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.
This is the backward thinking that goes on at the FDA, where regulations currently prohibit manufacturers of dietary supplements or producers of food from referring to any scientific study documenting the potential effect of the substance on a health condition, punishable by large fines and even jail.
Disclosure about the benefits of a dietary supplement or food, no matter how credible, places the food in the category of an “unapproved drug.” In other words, if a product makes a medical claim, it’s automatically classified as a drug.
The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) states:
“The FDA ignores first amendment protections and censors the communication of valid scientific information. The agency seems to have lost sight of its mandate to protect the public and has instead come to see itself as the guardian of corporate interests.”
And walnut producers are not alone. Cherry growers have also been threatened by the FDA with jail time if their websites even contain links to scientific studies from Harvard and elsewhere, outlining the health benefits of cherries for gout or arthritis pain. Green tea growers have received similar threats. As I said, it truly boggles the mind…
Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R–UT) and Jared Polis (D–CO) have introduced the Free Speech about Science Act (HR 1364), a landmark legislation that would allow the flow of legitimate scientific and educational information. The new bill provides a limited and carefully targeted change to FDA regulations so that manufacturers and producers may reference legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific studies without converting a natural food or dietary supplement into an “unapproved drug.” According to Rep. Chaffetz’s website, the provisions of HR 1364 do the following:
- Allow dietary supplements and healthy foods to cite legitimate scientific research
- Provide a clear definition of the types of research that may be referenced by growers and manufacturers
- Ensure that referencing such research does not convert a food or dietary supplement into an “unapproved (and therefore illegal) new drug”
- Retain the authority of FDA and FTC to pursue any fraudulent and misleading statements
According to Rep. Chaffetz:
“It is important for individuals and families to take charge of their personal health by making the right decisions to get and stay healthy. This includes accessing information so that individuals can adjust habits, eat healthfully, and take appropriate dietary supplements to prevent and even treat health conditions.
The Free Speech About Science Act helps insure their access to legitimate scientific research to make the necessary decisions to improve their personal health and the health of their families.”
Rep. Polis adds:
“Today’s science has shown that vitamins and nutritional supplements can offer successful, natural alternatives to drugs. As we begin to reform our nation’s healthcare system, supplements are an innovative way to help reduce costs.
The Free Speech About Science Act is a common sense act that will make it easier for doctors and consumers to learn about the cheaper, healthier alternatives to costly medicines that food and nutritional supplements provide.”
As of December 2011, HR 1364 is in the first step in the legislative process and has been referred to committee. The majority of bills never make it out of committee, so we need your help.