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Qualified Health Claim for Nuts and Heart Disease Prevention: Development of Consumer-Friendly Language

Ternus, Maureen MS, RD; McMahon, Kathleen PhD, RD; Lapsley, Karen PhD; Johnson, Guy PhD

Focus on Communications

In 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began authorizing qualified health claims for conventional foods. Although the FDA had developed generic qualifying language for these claims, the language had not yet been tested with consumers. We conducted shopping mall intercept research among a random sample of 408 adults. The research tested consumer preference, understanding and believability, and impact on nut consumption of 4 variations of the "B" level qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease. The FDA generic language was used as the control. The results show that one of the alternatives was ranked significantly higher than the FDA generic claim for clarity and understandability but was similar in all other categories, including the scientific uncertainty associated with the claim. This research demonstrates that it is possible to meet FDA's standards for truthful and not misleading health claims using consumer-friendly language.

A case study on developing a consumer friendly health claim

Maureen Ternus, MS, RD, is the Nutrition Coordinator for the INC NREF.

Kathleen McMahon, PhD, RD, formerly the Nutrition Consultant for the California Pistachio Commission and INC NREF Nutrition Committee member.

Karen Lapsley, PhD, is Director of Scientific Affairs for the Almond Board of California and an INC NREF Nutrition Committee member.

Guy Johnson, PhD, Adjunct Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne and owner of Johnson Nutrition Solutions, LLC, wrote the original health claim petition for INC NREF.

Corresponding author: Maureen Ternus, MS, RD, International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, 2413 Anza Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 (e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.