Skip to comments.FDA Tomato Ruling May Make Pizza a Health Food
Posted on 11/13/2005 6:16:20 PM PST by Born Conservative
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The FDA said this week that eating tomatoes and tomato sauce may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and food companies can make that claim in ads and on product labels if they wish.
According to the FDA, the cancer-protection bottom line is maybe for tomatoes and tomato sauce with prostate cancer and probably not for pancreatic, ovarian, and gastric cancer. That said, the FDA this week said food companies can claim cancer-fighting benefits for tomatoes and tomato sauce in ads and on labels.
On the other hand, the agency ruled that companies selling the tomato-based dietary supplement lycopene can't claim any cancer benefits for their products.
The agency's "partial denial" letters were greeted with joy by a consortium of tomato-products companies, including H.J. Heinz of Pittsburgh, and with anger by a San Diego supplement marketer that had sought approval for wide-ranging claims of lycopene benefits.
F. Kerr Dow, Ph.D., vice president and chief technical officer for Heinz, said the company was "very pleased that we finally got the FDA to come out and acknowledge the link" between tomatoes and tomato sauce and reduction of prostate cancer risk.
But Dr. Dow said in an interview the language of the FDA ruling was "pretty complicated and not very inspiring" and may not wind up on product labels for his company's tomato sauce in the near future.
Over the signature of Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, the agency ruled:
For prostate cancer, there is "very limited and preliminary scientific research (that) suggests that eating one-half to one cup of tomatoes and/or tomato sauce a week may reduce the risk of prostate cancer." The agency concluded "there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim."
For gastric cancer, the FDA said it's "unlikely that tomatoes reduce the risk."
It's "highly uncertain" that tomato sauce reduces the risk ovarian cancer.
And it's "highly unlikely that tomatoes reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer," the FDA said.
The FDA also ruled there is "no credible evidence" that lycopene, either as a food ingredient, a component of food, or a dietary supplement, reduces the risk of any of the four cancers.
The rulings came after two years of investigation into two petitions for the right to make health claims on product labels and in advertising -- one from the Lycopene Health Claim Coalition (which includes Heinz) and one from American Longevity Inc. of San Diego.
The San Diego company said the FDA ruling on lycopene "misleads the American consumer" and vowed to sue the agency for violating its First Amendment rights to free speech.
"The American public is entitled to the whole truth and we will do all we can to prevent FDA from keeping this scientific information from the American people," said Steve Wallach, the company's general manager, in a news release.
Despite the weakness of the claims the companies are allowed to make, Dr. Dow said the ruling means the "government is admitting that there is meaningful research out there."
"This helps raise consumer awareness that tomatoes are healthy," he said.
But Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at New York University and the author of several books on the politics of food, said the consumer is unlikely to understand the complete picture.
"The general public believes that if a health claim is on the label the government backs that up," Dr. Nestle said in an interview. "This sells food products, no question."
She said this week's rulings came after years of de-regulation and legislative changes that have hampered the FDA's ability to regulate what claims are made about the health benefits of food.
If American Longevity sues the agency, Dr. Nestle said "they're likely to win, because the courts are increasingly interpreting advertising speech as something that's covered by the First Amendment."
In the face of such legal challenges, Dr. Nestle said, "the FDA began allowing qualified health claims that are increasingly ridiculous and I would say this one is the height of ridiculous."
An FDA official, speaking on background, said: "We basically just look at the science and this is where we ended up."
The FDA official said the qualified health claims mechanism allows consumers to judge the level of science that supports such a claim.
Although Dr Dow said Heinz has no plans to put the health claim on the label of its tomato sauce, he said the company would use the ruling to communicate with consumers.
Dr. Nestle said she expects to see full-page ads shortly touting the new health claims, "or they'll put posters up saying pizza is the biggest source of tomato sauce in the American diet."
it isn't already?
And they made fun of ronnie for Calling Catsup a vegetable.
The cheese would have cancelled out whatever benefits tomatoes contribute.
The Breakfast of Champions.
Tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable.
I've said this for years!
Its not just for breakfast anymore
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
Not that there's anything wrong with that /Seinfeld
>>> The Breakfast of Champions.
That would be Budweiser on your Wheaties.
YEAH! Pizza, Vino, and beer are GOOD FOR YOU America!
Red wine inhibits flu virus:
" 'We have shown that RV [resveratrol], a natural polyphenol whose concentration in red wine is 1.5-3.0 mg/L, can inhibit the in vitro and in vivo replication of influenza A virus without producing any significant toxicity,' the article states."
I was all excited till I realized I didn't have a prostate.:(
Woo hoo! I had piza for dinner.
Pizza must be a health food. It has kept a country full of lazy, euroweenie socialists well fed for at least the last sixty years.
You'll find tomatoes in the vegetable section of your supermarket or produce market. You'll find canned tomatoes in the 'canned vegetables' isle of your supermarket. Therefore: tomatoes are a vegetable. To quote Lloyd Bentsen, "I've known fruits and you Mr Tomato are no fruit!"
He, he, what about my Bloody Maaary? That is much better cancer fighting benefit in liquid form, with vodka accelerator, no need to chew and feel macho better. Put that on the label!
David Stockman is FINALLY vindicated.
They can never make up their minds on food, can they. It changes by the week so I just eat what I want to.
The healthiest of tomatoes is the thought tomato, of course. It makes you much smarter, but has some minor side effects such as nausea, headache, swollen glands, limbs falling right off and spontaneous combustion.
The sauce on a pizza is such a small portion of the total that you'd die of cholesterol from the cheese and weight gain fron the crust long before any health benfits accrued from the tomato sauce!