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Image of the FDA Headquarters
FDA Headquarters; Image by Jason Reed, https://www.reuters.com

The Trump administration and FDA have decided to delay yet another Obama-era rule that would require manufacturers to “update nutritional facts labels on processed foods.” Why? Well, it turns out that the “Food and Drug Administration said it has determined that manufacturers need additional time beyond the July 26, 2018 compliance date to complete and print new labels for their products.”

When asked why the agency would need more time, the FDA issued a statement on their website that read:

“The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace. The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time.”

The rule itself was finalized back in May of 2016, and would specifically require manufacturers to “follow a new design for the nutritional facts labels, one that highlights a product’s calories.” Additionally, the changes would “include new serving sizes that more closely reflect the amount of food people actually eat, require the amount of added sugars to be listed in grams as a percent daily value and updates the nutrients manufacturers must list.” Another requirement would be that vitamin D and potassium would have to be included on the label, “along with calcium, and iron but vitamins A and C will no longer be required.”

Image of a food label
Food Label; Image Courtesy of Kids Health, http://kidshealth.org/

In addition to those requirements, manufacturers would also have to include “dual columns that list both per serving and per package calorie and nutrition information for certain products consumed in one or multiple sittings.”

So far the delays have been met with applause from manufacturers and other industry groups who have called it a “common-sense decision to reduce consumer confusion and cost.” In fact, Pamela Bailey, the president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said in a statement, “Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to giving consumers the information and tools they need to make informed choices, such as by updating the Nutrition Facts Panel.” She added, “But the fast-approaching compliance deadline was virtually impossible to meet without the needed final guidance documents from FDA. FDA’s extension is both reasonable and practical.”

However, on the other side of the aisle, consumer advocates were less than pleased by the decision, prompting Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) to say that the “delay will only add to consumer and industry confusion since manufacturers have already started adopting the new labels.” He added, “The Trump administration would do well to remember that FDA’s mission is to protect the public health of the American people not the bottom line of industry.”

Sources:

FDA delaying overhaul of nutrition labels

FDA delays rolling out new nutrition facts label

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