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Food Labeling: Toward National Uniformity
MSG. While such practices do not violate Federal regulations, consumers argue that those sensitive to MSG do not have the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
FDA regulations do not require that many added colors, flavors, and chemical preservatives be listed by their specific names on the ingredient listing but rather by generic names established for particular categories of ingredients. Thus, most flavors, colors, and spices need not necessarily be listed individually, which has been a long-standing source of debate between consumers and industry. Consumer groups argue that this type of generic labeling does not provide them with the information necessary to determine precisely the ingredients contained in a given product. On the other hand, more extensive labeling might crowd out other important information on the label. In addition, industry is reluctant to provide such information because it could reveal trade secrets. These arguments are now moot in regard to certified colors because NLEA requires that they be individually listed in the ingredient statement [NLEA Section 7(3)].
It appears that State requirements with respect to flavorings, colorings, and spices are frequently written in a way that combines the concepts of misbranding under FDCA Section 403(b) and economic adulteration under FDCA Section 402(b)(4). The latter section states that a food is adulterated if any substance has been added thereto or mixed or packed therewith so as to increase its bulk or weight, or reduce its quality or strength, or make it appear better or of greater value than it is. As a result, for many State labeling requirements for additives, colors, and chemical preservatives, there are not clear delineations among economic adulteration, health and safety issues, and misbranding requirements. It is clear, however, that State statutes and regulations that specifically address issues of adulteration, in contrast to misbranding, are not preempted under NLEA. This lack of preemption of adulteration provisions [NLEA Section 6(a)] would apply especially to any requirement respecting a warning statement in the labeling of food concerning the safety of the food or component of the food.
Before passage of NLEA, FDCA provided that colorings need not be declared by their common or usual name but could be designated by the collective term "colorings" [FDCA Sections 403(g) and (i)]. NLEA amended FDCA Section 403(g) with respect to colorings, so that after May 8, 1993, only colorings for which FDA does not require certification under FDCA Section 706(c) will be exempt from label declaration by their common or usual name. Although NLEA did not change the requirements for spices and