FDA: Oats good for hearts, and boxes can say so
January 21, 1997
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Oat bran was ubiquitous in the '80s --
cropping up in muffins, cookies, even donuts -- as people
fought their personal battles with cholesterol.
Then the craze lost steam as new studies showed other foods
could help lower cholesterol. But now, oat bran and oatmeal
could make a comeback.
In response to a request by Quaker Oats, the Food and Drug
Administration has decided that food with a lot of oat bran
or rolled oats can carry a label claiming it may reduce the
risk of heart disease, when combined with a low-fat diet.
"There is scientific agreement soluble fiber from oat
products when added to a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol
diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease," said the
FDA's Ed Scarbrough.
This is the first time the FDA has allowed a health claim for
specific foods such as oat products, instead of a broad
category of foods such as those low in fat.
Quaker Oats, the nation's leading maker of oatmeal, says it's
good news for consumers.
"For so many years, consumers have been getting messages
about what foods not to eat," Steven Ink of the Quaker Oats
Company said. "This FDA announcement is about a positive
message, namely, eat oatmeal and it will help you reduce your
risk for heart disease."
Other cereal makers will benefit, too: General Mills is
preparing to relabel original Cheerios and other brands.
Low-fat diet part of deal
Under the new regulation, companies can claim that eating
foods made from rolled oats, oat bran and oat flour that
contain enough soluble fiber may reduce the risk of heart
disease -- as long as they're part of a low-fat diet.
But not every oat-containing product qualifies, the FDA
warned, but only low-fat products -- those that have 3 grams
or less of fat per serving. General Mills can't put the label
on Apple-Cinnamon or Frosted Cheerios because they don't
contain enough oat bran.
A nutrition watchdog group says the message is misleading,
because consumers may not realize they can get a similar
benefit from fruits, vegetables and beans as well.
"It sets a bad precedent to focus on one food, as if it were
a magic bullet," said David Schardt of the Center for Science
in the Public Interest. "What this will do is encourage
people to stuff themselves on oat bran products or oat
products at the expense of some other good food."
Schardt's group says people may also be unaware they have to
eat up to four servings a day of oat products to get a health
Clinical trials show people need 3 grams of soluble fiber a
day to help lower their cholesterol, the FDA said. To qualify
for the health claim, oat-containing foods must provide at
least three-fourths of a gram of soluble fiber per serving.
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