Thursday, March 8, 2012

FDA Says Walnuts Are a "New Drug" - WTF

English: Facepalm photo

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.

If a Food Can Prevent a Disease, it Must be a Drug

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.

This is how the FDA got away with sending Diamond Food a warning letter1, stating:

"... we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.

The following are examples of the claims made on your firm's website under the heading of a web page stating "OMEGA-3s... Every time you munch a few walnuts, you're doing your body a big favor ... "

These claims are backed by science2, but it doesn't matter under FDA rules, which are so counter to rationality and logic that it boggles the mind. The FDA letter goes on to list several health claims made by Diamond Foods regarding omega-3 fats, claims such as:

"Studies indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts may help lower cholesterol; protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers; ease arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; and even fight depression and other mental illnesses." "[O]mega-3 fatty acids inhibit the tumor growth that is promoted by the acids found in other fats... " "[I]n treating major depression, for example, omega-3s seem to work by making it easier for brain cell receptors to process mood-related signals from neighboring neurons." "The omega-3s found in fish oil are thought to be responsible for the significantly lower incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women as compared to women in the United States." {Read on}