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Commission authorization of the filing of staff comment: The Commission has authorized the staffs of the Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Bureau of Economics to file a comment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to FDA’s equest for public comment regarding research on qualified health claims in labeling and advertising. The FDA held a public meeting on November 17, 2005, to present recent research on consumer perceptions of qualified and unqualified health claims for conventional foods and dietary supplements. In the meeting announcement, the agency sought comments on available research and the implications of the research for further consumer studies, and other approaches that might effectively convey to consumers the strength of supporting health claims.

In its comment, the FTC staff focuses on facilitating additional useful consumer research in this area. Specifically, the comment states that the staff's review of the research presented at the November 17 meeting suggests the following findings: 1) the current FDA language for qualified and unqualified claims does not communicate the four intended levels (A through D) of scientific certainty to consumers; 2) consumers do not perceive the current FDA unqualified significant scientific agreement (SSA) claim to convey strong scientific certainty; 3) the results of the FTC’s copy tests indicate that it is possible to craft language that differentiates clearly among differing levels of scientific certainty; 4) a “report card” format performed consistently well in the ranking tests; and 5) consumer interpretation of qualifying language tends to vary widely. The comment also discusses certain implications that the findings noted above may have on future qualified health claims research.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the comments, which can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release, was 5-0. (FTC File No. V060005; the staff contacts are Dennis Murphy and Pauline Ippolito, Bureau of Economics, 202-326-3524 or 202-326-3477; see related press release dated January 29, 2004.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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