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HEALTH : Food Firms Accused of Lying

From Times Wire Services

The chairman of a House panel investigating cereal makers’ health claims said today that pressure from the Office of Management and Budget on federal regulators has allowed food manufacturers to lie about the benefits of eating their products.

Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) said the Food and Drug Administration proposed in 1987 that explicit disease-prevention claims be allowed on food labels.

Weiss, chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee on human resources and intergovernmental relations, said that under OMB pressure the FDA bypassed the normal regulatory rules and allowed companies to begin making the health claims immediately.

The FDA said recently it had serious concerns about cereals that contain husks of psyllium, which contains soluble fiber. Manufacturers say the grain is safe and can help lower cholesterol.

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