Yes, you read that title correctly. On February 22nd, the FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Foods saying their walnuts are an “unapproved drug.” The FDA claims that due to the wording on their packaging, that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you, the FDA considers this a medical claim, and therefore Diamond Foods could be liable for all sorts of penalties from fines to jail.
Even though the packaging claims were merely a repetition of validated scientific studies, the FDA took issue with the walnut packaging mentioning claims such as:
So, thanks to the helpful people at the FDA, anyone who wishes to sell broccoli, seafood, green tea, or any other food and reference validated scientific studies are in for a big surprise. By indicating they may be good for people’s health, the company must first apply to the FDA if they wish to mention the results of peer-reviewed studies on their packaging, a long and costly process. Why obvious information on packaging, that has been scientifically validated, turns a food eaten my humans for thousands of years into a drug is one of the mysteries that provide some insight into the inner workings of the FDA.
Antioxidative Polyphenols from Walnuts, Phytochemisty, August 2003: 63(7); 795-801, Toshiyuki Fukuda