FDA delays rule requiring new nutrition facts panel on food

J. David Ake  AP

J. David Ake AP

The International Dairy Foods Association appreciates the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) announced intention to extend the compliance dates for the new Nutrition Facts label and Serving Size rules.

A revamped nutrition facts panel created to make it easier to see how many calories and added sugars are in packaged foods and drinks is being delayed.

The FDA said in an update Tuesday that as a result of feedback from industry groups, and after careful consideration, it would extend the compliance deadline.

"The new nutrition label would allow consumers to have a better and clearer idea of the amounts of certain nutrients in their foods, as well as of ingredients they might choose to reduce or avoid, such as added sugars", Schiff said.

Additionally, the extended compliance dates are meant to give the industry more time and decrease costs, as well as minimize the transition period between the old and new versions of the label in the marketplace.

In a letter sent earlier this year to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and other food industry groups had asked for an extension to 2021, the AP noted.

Originally, large companies had been given until July 2018 to comply with the new label, and at least one food giant, Mars Inc., has said it could be ready to meet that deadline. FDA said it will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register notice at a later time. Having two separate compliance deadlines would require food and beverage manufacturers to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of changing the label twice on every food package in the United States.

"The longer you draw this out, the more confusing the marketplace becomes", he said.

Unsurprisingly, the FDA's decision to extend the compliance date was applauded by the Big Food groups. The postponement was a response to "numerous stakeholders" requesting more time, the regulator said, though it did not say what the new deadline would be.

According to the AP, the agency recently delayed legislation forcing restaurants, grocery and convenience stores to post calorie counts for foods they sold until 2018. That is also leading to inconsistency in what people see, since some businesses had already started posting the calorie counts in anticipation of the previous deadline. And the Agriculture Department has delayed animal welfare standards for organic foods and sodium standards for federally subsidized school lunches.

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