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More Fraud Charges for a Powerhouse in the Diet and Fitness Industry

Another weight loss giant has been taken down on charges of fraud: Kevin Trudeau, author of the book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” was sentenced to 10 years in prison for making false claims about the content of his diet manual on TV infomercials.

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According to Reuters, it was first in 2004 Trudeau that got into trouble for misrepresenting his products on TV. But that didn’t stop him. In 2006 and 2007 he aired a misleading infomercial for ”The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” around 32,000 times. In 2010 he was asked to pay consumers around $38 million for misrepresenting the contents of his book. He never did, which subsequently landed him back in court, and now in prison.


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New Nutrition Label is Two Years Away! FDA Deputy Director Confirms Steps to Reform

Our news about the nutrition facts reform from the FDA has been spreading like wildfire! We dug deeper to find for you the timeline that nobody seems to be providing yet. After speaking at length with the FDA’s Deputy Director Siobhan DeLancey, here’s what to expect in the days (and weeks, and years…) to come regarding the new label update.

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STEP ONE: 90-day Public Commentary (Opens today! See below for how to place your comment)

The label reform is now open to a 90-day public commentary period where the FDA is expecting to hear from a variety of groups and individuals from nutritionists, consumers, and food industry groups.

STEP TWO: Review of commentary (duration unknown)

The FDA must then review and consider those comments to evaluate any possible changes to the reform. They were unable to give us an exact timeline as it is dependent on the number and breadth of the commends received.

STEP THREE: Two-year implementation after final rule

After the FDA has issued a final ruling, they are proposing a two-year implementation period for products to comply with new industry standards. “But we expect many companies will put the new label on their product earlier than that, as we saw when the original nutrition facts label requirement came out,” says DeLancey.
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Finally! The Feds Create BS-Free Nutrition Label, Give Americans Reality Check

The White House and the Food and Drug Administration have announced their plan today to update the nutrition facts label on food packages, a move that is being heralded and praised by nutrition experts and enthusiasts alike.

new nutrition label

Proposed changes include:

  • Calories displayed more prominently. Congress and the FDA are pushing for a larger, bolded font for calories and all parts of the label that affect obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Serving Size. Have you ever noticed a bottle of soda actually contains 2.5 servings, while the average American drinks the whole thing in one sitting? Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert, thinks this means we are all in for a big reality check. The new label will change the serving size from what we should eat to what people actually consume.
  • Detailed sugar labeling. The improved labels will have a new line for “added sugars,” or sugars not occurring naturally and have been including only after chemical processing (think naturally-occurring lactose in yogurt vs. added aspartame in a Yoplait). What does Hartley have to say about that? “Finally.”
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Slammin’! Food Labels to Get First Major Update in 20 Years

If something has stayed the same for 20 years, it’s usually either a sign of a tradition holding fast, or an indication that it’s time for a change. Change is in the air at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which has plans to overhaul its 20-year-old design of food labels.

food label

According to the FDA, the new design is headed down the path of final approval. “The agency is working toward publishing proposed rules to update the nutrition facts label and serving size information to improve consumer understanding and use of nutrition information on food labels,” Juli Putnam, a media spokesperson for the FDA, told TIME magazine.

Many consumers and nutrition experts are saying it’s about time the labels are updated. Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods told ABC News that, 20 years ago, “there was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated. The food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed. It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”

The last notable change to food labels was the separation of trans fats from all fats in 2006, due to consumer demand.


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23andMe Broke the FDA’s Rules. Dr. Richard Besser Explains the Violation and Why This isn’t About Blocking Your Rights

UPDATE 12/7/13: 23AndMe may no longer support new clients in accordance with the FDA directive delivered to the personal genome testing company last month. Our interview, below, with ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser explains, as does this message on the company’s homepage.

23andme suspended

This week the FDA took action against 23andMe, the popular home genome testing kit, to discontinue marketing its product until years of unresolved requests from the government agency can be addressed.

“Since July of 2009, we have been diligently working to help you comply with regulatory requirements regarding safety and effectiveness and obtain marketing authorization for your PGS [Personal Genome Testing] device,” wrote the FDA in a letter made public on its website. The company has failed to comply with all of the FDA requests to receive proper validation and approval by the agency, something required of medical devices and tests.

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According to Dr. Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News and author of Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, that’s exactly what 23andMe is. He thinks a lot of people online are missing the point about what is going on with the FDA’s motion, explaining “the way our system works, medical tests used for diagnosis, treatment, or prevention need to be approved by the FDA to make sure it does what it says.”

There in lies much of the problem – these genetic home testing kits aren’t always accurate. Dr. Besser cited a government study conducted in 2010 that used 10 kits from four different companies and had a group of volunteers submit their tests. He explained that the results varied not only by company, but within tests from the same company. Some tests showed positives for some genetic markers and diseases, while others showed negatives. The inconsistency can be incredibly misleading and disconcerting for consumers.

“These tests are fine if you want to look at your ancestry or for male pattern baldness,” explained Dr. Besser, who went on to say that when a test like this shows a woman that she is a carrier for the BRCA gene (the marker for breast cancer), “she needs to know that it’s right.” Some serious, sometimes life-altering, decisions have to come from the results of these tests.

What has happened in this instance is that 23andMe hasn’t just marketed this test as a cellular way to track your ancestry and family history, but instead with the intention of “diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body,” per the FDA letter. 23andMe’s website tells customers the test will provide health results for 254 diseases and conditions, and that’s a red flag for the FDA, who has been trying for the better part of five years to get 23andMe to relinquish the pertinent data, testing, and information necessary for validation and approval.
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