FDA: Supplements must prove claims ASSOCIATED PRESS, Chicago Tribune, 12/30/93 WASHINGTON-

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FDA: Supplements must prove claims ASSOCIATED PRESS, Chicago Tribune, 12/30/93 WASHINGTON--Beginning this summer, dietary supplements can't claim they prevent cancer or alleviate AIDS, thwart hair loss or promote virility unless they can prove it. The Food and Drug Administration released new labeling regulations Wednesday that will force dietary supplements to live up to the same standards as foods. The rules won't take any supplements off the shelves, the FDA stressed. But they will require prior approval for health claims on supplement bottles, in catalogs or implied by a product's name. "Consumers should have access to dietary supplements that are truthfully labeled and marketed," said FDA Commissioner David Kessler. "These rules enable the public to make informed choices." Also Wednesday, the FDA allowed products containing folic acid to say it prevents common birth defects when taken in the first weeks of pregnancy. "Opportunities for mass prevention of serious and common birth defects come along only once in a generation," said Richard Johnston Jr. of the March of Dimes which praised the decision. A number of studies have shown that folic acid, one of the B vitamins, can reduce the number of children born with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. A March of Dimes statement said that women taking folic acid prior to conception and during early pregnancy can prevent an estimated 50 to 70 percent of the brain and spine birth defects. Folic acid intake often is low in the typical American diet and Johnston said that many women may have to take pills to achieve the recommended daily allowance of .4 milligrams. Congress required FDA to regulate supplement labels under a 1990 law, but the plan generated fierce opposition from the $4 billion supplements industry, including a commercial in which movie star Mel Gibson was "arrested" for possessing vitamin C.

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