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Wisconsin Beekeepers, Maple Syrup Producers Aren't Too Sweet On Proposed FDA Nutrition Labels

Wisconsin Beekeepers, Maple Syrup Producers Aren't Too Sweet On Proposed FDA Nutrition Labels →

Shamane Mills, writing for Wisconsin Public Radio.

The federal government is trying to get people to eat better with updated Nutrition Fact labels on packaged foods, and one change to the label would specify added sugars.

But those who keep bees and tap trees are fighting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal, and the federal agency may go back to the drawing board.

The FDA proposal is designed to educate consumers about how much sugar they eat. But producers of honey and maple syrup say a label with the words "added sugars" is confusing — and misleading — because they aren’t adding anything.

One such producer is Kent Pegorsch, president of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association and a commercial beekeeper in Waupaca.

"We objected to the wording which was misleading consumers to believe that we were adding corn syrup or other sugars to our product when in fact we weren’t, it was just naturally occurring sugars that were already in the product," Pegorsch said.

Wisconsin ranks fourth in maple syrup production and 12th in honey production.

The FDA received more than 3,000 comments on its labeling proposal, most from honey and maple syrup producers. The proposed label changes were debuted in May 2016 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and the comment period closed June 15.

"This is (the) second comment period based on feedback they received during first comment period. I unfortunately have a feeling the FDA is close to putting this into the regulations, and they’re really not going to clarify this any further than possibly allowing us to add a footnote on the label explaining what added sugars actually means. I don’t foresee a big change coming," said Pegorsch.

The FDA said in a constituent update that it "looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution."

This is the sort of thing that gives government regulation a bad name.

FDA bans antibacterial soaps

FDA bans antibacterial soaps →

Beth Mole reports, for Ars Technica.

In a final ruling announced Friday, the Food and Drug Administration is pulling from the market a wide range of antimicrobial soaps after manufacturers failed to show that the soaps are both safe and more effective than plain soap. The federal flushing applies to any hand soap or antiseptic wash product that has one or more of 19 specific chemicals in them, including the common triclosan (found in antibacterial hand soap) and triclocarbon (found in bar soaps). Manufacturers will have one year to either reformulate their products or pull them from the market entirely.

As Ars has reported previously, scientists have found that triclosan and other antimicrobial soaps have little benefit to consumers and may actually pose risks. These include bolstering antibiotic resistant microbes, giving opportunistic pathogens a leg up, and disrupting microbiomes. In its final ruling, issued Friday, the FDA seemed to agree. “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

The pill has benefits beyond birth control

The pill has benefits beyond birth control →

I want to like this article, I really do. After all, I support Dr. Potts's main goal: making birth control pills available over-the-counter, without a prescription. It's a good goal. But he's dead wrong on one issue.

So why isn't the pill sold next to aspirin in every pharmacy or gas station? Commercial greed and a strong patriarchal streak in American politics.

Prescription medicines bring higher profits than over-the-counter drugs. As a doctor, I would recommend my loved ones use a low-dose generic pill whose safety has been well documented over a generation of use. A good generic manufacturer can make a packet of pills for under 20 cents, and they could be sold for $8 a month or less and still make a profit.

Sooner or later, one generic manufacturer will break ranks and ask the FDA to let the pill be sold without a prescription. Let's hope it's sooner.

Uhm, no. The pill is already available in multiple generic forms. Walmart and Target pharmacies both already sell it for about $9 / month. Dr. Potts is conflating two different things: prescription vs OTC and name-brand vs generic. Many generic drugs are still prescription only and many name-brand drugs are already OTC.

Drug companies make a large chunk of their profits by having a patent on a drug. Once that patent expires, any generic manufacturer can make and sell their own versions. But that doesn't automatically make the drug available over-the-counter. It just gives your doctor multiple options, at multiple price points, of what to prescribe for you.

No, the pill is still prescription only because the FDA is one of the most paranoid and risk averse Federal agencies. The pill won't be available OTC until there is enough public pressure to make it OTC or until Congress or the President forces them to make it OTC. Given that various governments are busy cracking down on Sudafed and taking it from OTC to prescription only, I'm not holding my breath for a happy ending for the pill.

This entry was tagged. Drugs Fda

Minor Medicine Concerns

This story (Ban Sought on Cold Medicine for Very Young - New York Times) made my pharmacist wife shake her head.

It seems more than a little overkill to ban an entire class of medicines just because a few doctors start jumping up and down and yelling "There's no proof that it works! No proof!"

And look at the number of children supposedly killed by these medicines in a 37 year period: 123. That's about 3.3 children per year. Far, far more than that are killed via accidents every year (such as parents backing over kiddies with the SUV) than by baby dimetap. Some perspective might be in order here.