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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

HCG Diet Products Are Illegal

HCG is a hormone that is produced by the human placenta during pregnancy.

hcg diet products Products that claim to contain HCG are typically marketed in connection with a very low calorie diet, usually one that limits calories to 500 per day. Many of these popular HCG products claim to “reset your metabolism,” change “abnormal eating patterns,” and shave 20-30 pounds in 30-40 days.

“These products are marketed with incredible claims and people think that if they're losing weight, HCG must be working,” says Elizabeth Miller, acting director of FDA’s Division of Non-Prescription Drugs and Health Fraud. “But the data simply does not support this; any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from the HCG.”

HCG is approved by FDA as a prescription drug for the treatment of female infertility, and other medical conditions. It is not approved for weight loss. In fact, the prescription drug label notes there “is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

HCG is not approved for OTC sale for any purpose.

Anyone who has ever been on a diet—and there are many of us—knows that there are sensible ways to lose weight. These include balanced diets, exercising and realistic goals.

And then there are reckless ways to shed pounds—fads and diet aids that promise rapid weight loss, but often recommend potentially dangerous practices. These include HCG weight-loss products marketed over-the-counter (OTC) that are identified as "homeopathic" and direct users to follow a severely restrictive diet.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers to steer clear of these "homeopathic" human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) weight-loss products.  They are sold in the form of oral drops, pellets and sprays and can be found online and in some retail stores. 

FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued seven letters to companies warning them that they are selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs that have not been approved by FDA, and that make unsupported claims. 

(For the list of manufacturers, distributors and products—and more information about FDA’s concerns about HCG—visit www.fda.gov/hcgdiet.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

DO YOU HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES – READ LABEL

A great article on Food allergy. Since 2006, it has been much easier for people allergic to certain foods to avoid packaged products that contain them, says Rhonda Kane, a registered dietitian and consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration.

food allergy This is because a federal law requires that the labels of most packaged foods marketed in the U.S. disclose—in simple-to-understand terms—when they are made with a “major food allergen.”

Eight foods, and ingredients containing their proteins, are defined as major food allergens. These foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies:

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish, such as bass, flounder, or cod
  • crustacean shellfish, such as crab, lobster, or shrimp
  • tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • soybeans

The law allows manufacturers a choice in how they identify the specific “food source names,” such as “milk,” “cod,” “shrimp,” or “walnuts,” of the major food allergens on the label. They must be declared either in:

  • the ingredient list, such as “casein (milk)” or “nonfat dry milk,” or
  • a separate “Contains” statement, such as “Contains milk,” placed immediately after or next to the ingredient list.

“So first look for the ‘Contains’ statement and if your allergen is listed, put the product back on the shelf,” says Kane. “If there is no ‘Contains’ statement, it’s very important to read the entire ingredient list to see if your allergen is present. If you see its name even once, it’s back to the shelf for that food too.”

There are many different ingredients that contain the same major food allergen, but sometimes the ingredients’ names do not indicate their specific food sources. For example, casein, sodium caseinate, and whey are all milk proteins. Although the same allergen can be present in multiple ingredients, its “food source name” (for example, milk) must appear in the ingredient list just once to comply with labeling requirements.

 

"Contains" and "May Contain" Have Different Meanings

If a “Contains” statement appears on a food label, it must include the food source names of all major food allergens used as ingredients. For example, if “whey,” “egg yolks,” and a “natural flavor” that contained peanut proteins are listed as ingredients, the “Contains” statement must identify the words “milk,” “egg,” and “peanuts.”

Some manufacturers voluntarily include a “may contain” statement on their labels when there is a chance that a food allergen could be present. A manufacturer might use the same equipment to make different products. Even after cleaning this equipment, a small amount of an allergen (such as peanuts) that was used to make one product (such as cookies) may become part of another product (such as crackers). In this case, the cracker label might state “may contain peanuts.”

Be aware that the “may contain” statement is voluntary, says Kane. “You still need to read the ingredient list to see if the product contains your allergen.”

 

When in Doubt, Leave It Out

Manufacturers can change their products’ ingredients at any time, so Kane says it’s a good idea to check the ingredient list every time you buy the product—even if you have eaten it before and didn’t have an allergic reaction.

“If you’re unsure about whether a food contains any ingredient to which you are sensitive, don’t buy the product, or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains,” says Kane. “We all want convenience, but it’s not worth playing Russian roulette with your life or that of someone under your care.”

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

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