FDA Moves to Regulate the Sale of E-cigarettes

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Electronic Cigarettes Collection Isolated On WhiteWhen electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, first entered the market, there were few rules regulating who they could be sold to and what warnings (if any) they must carry. In recent years, concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes has grown and many have criticized e-cigarette manufacturers for targeting teenagers with candy-like flavors like cookies and cream, chocolate and birthday cake.

On May 5, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, like hookahs, will be regulated in the same way that traditional cigarettes are. Retailers will now be required to verify that all e- cigarette customers are at least 18 years old, and they will no longer be able to distribute free samples to customers.

E-cigarettes With Lots Of Different Re-fill BottlesPreviously, there were no regulations about disclosing the ingredients in e-cigarettes. Under the new rule, all manufacturers will be required to list what is in their products. E-cigarettes must also now carry warnings that they contain the addictive substance, nicotine, and they must come in child- resistant packaging.

In addition, all e-cigarettes that went on sale after February 2007 must gain FDA approval. Considering the fact that the e-cigarette market was virtually non-existent before 2007, this means that every e-cigarette, as well as every flavor and nicotine level, will need to be approved. This could be a very time-intensive and expensive process for companies. E-cigarette manufacturers will have two years to gain FDA approval.

Food Labels to Get a Makeover

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On May 23, 2016, the FDA announced that food labels will be getting an overhaul. The new food labels will now list how many added sugars are in each product and more clearly define what a serving size is. Many Americans are unaware of how much sugar is added to foods they wouldn’t conventionally think of as sweet, like cereal, flavored yogurts and tomato soup. The FDA hopes that these new labels will help Americans better manage their diets.

The new labels will also use a bolder font to highlight the number of calories in each food, and labels will now include potassium and vitamin D levels—since studies have shown that many Americans are deficient in these areas.

Food labels will no longer be required to list vitamin C and A levels because deficiencies in these vitamins are now rare, according to the FDA. Calcium and iron amounts, though, will remain on the label.

Large food manufacturers will have two years to add the new labels to their products. Small manufacturers—those who generate less than $10 million in sales a year—will have three years to adhere to new labeling requirements.

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Understanding Food Expiration Dates

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Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate food expiration dates? And, several different types of expiration dates appear on food products, which can add to the confusion about how long food is safe to eat. Some commonly used food label dates include:

  • “Sell By” Date: This date indicates how long a food product should be displayed on store shelves.
  • “Use By”/”Best if Used By” Date: Manufacturers use this date to indicate how long a food product will maintain its optimal taste and texture.
  • Expiration Date: This date indicates how long a food product is safe to eat.

FDA Bans Artificial Trans Fats by 2018

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that artificial trans fats are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and is requiring that they be phased out of the food supply by 2018.

While trans fat does occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, many processed foods, such as crackers, coffee creamer and margarine, contain artificial trans fats. Artificial trans fats are created in partially hydrogenated oils (PHO)s, which are oils that have been infused with hydrogen. This process keeps the oils solid at room temperature, and is used to maintain flavor and increase the shelf life of processed foods. Intake of trans fat has been shown to cause various health problems, including high cholesterol and coronary heart disease.

Calories Outside the Kitchen

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Man with tongs cooking on a back yard barbecue.Many people follow proper nutrition in the kitchen, only to fare poorly when eating outside their homes. While everyone should be allowed an occasional restaurant indulgence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that Americans consume a third of their total caloric intake from dining out, and the nutritional uncertainty in all that takeout can be frustrating. However, changes are coming that should make keeping track of prepared food much easier.

On Nov. 25, 2014, the FDA announced that calorie counts must be listed for a wide range of food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages shown on menus. The rules require all restaurants with 20 or more locations to display calorie counts on their menus. The rules also extend to vending machines, amusement parks and movie theaters.

Businesses have one year to comply with the new rule. Until then, dieters are advised to stick to restaurants that voluntarily publish nutritional info and to eat healthily at home whenever possible.