On November 1, 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved a rare qualified health claim that olive oil can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Food labels on olive oil products can now include this statement:

“Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of [name of food] contains [x] grams of olive oil.”

According to an FDA news release dated November 1, “With this claim, consumers can make more informed decisions about maintaining healthy dietary practices,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford. “Since CHD is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States, it is a public health priority to make sure that consumers have accurate and useful information on reducing their risk.”

This was only the third time the FDA has granted such a health claim; the previous claims extolled the health benefits of walnuts and omega-3 fatty acids. For more information on any of these health claims, go to the FDA website at www .cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/qhcolive.html.