A proposal to ban a broad array of so called functional foods is a "frenzied overreaction," the Grocery Manufacturers of America said today. GMA's comments came as the Center for Science in the Public Interest expressed its continued opposition to functional foods, which are often described as foods that may provide some type of recognized nutritional or health benefits.

The GAO report cited by CSPI calls on Congress and the Food and Drug Administration to enact more regulations relating to oversight of functional foods and dietary supplements. GMA said that the GAO report lacked sufficient evidence to justify new regulations governing functional foods.

"Functional foods are just that: foods. They already have to meet stringent federal food safety regulations. CSPI's frenzied call for product bans is an overreaction," said GMA food scientist Stacey Zawel, Ph.D.

"The 'food police' are once again muddying the regulatory waters and are seeking to confuse consumers over the rules governing functional foods and dietary supplements. CSPI is frankly engaging in over-the-top dietary Puritanism in its call for product bans.

"The FDA already has sufficient authority to take enforcement action against products it deems to be unsafe. Mainstream food companies fully support the high standard that all claims be scientifically substantiated, truthful and not misleading and that all products be safe," added Zawel, GMA's Vice President for Scientific and Regulatory Policy.

"CSPI may not like it, but food companies have a constitutional right to make health-related information available to consumers. And the current regulatory structure allows FDA to prevent fraudulent claims and unsafe foods from being allowed in the marketplace."

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.