Industry Responds: FDA Delays Deadline for New Nutrition Labels

Owen Stevens
Июня 14, 2017

After sustained lobbying from the packaged food and beverage industry, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday an indefinite delay in the launch of Nutrition Fact labels that were meant to help Americans eat more healthfully.

In a statement on its website, the FDA said additional time would "provide manufacturers covered by the rule with the necessary guidance from FDA".

The labels were redesigned to make it easier for consumers to see how many calories and added sugars are in the product.

"Our member companies are hopeful that once FDA announces the new implementation timeline they will be able to avoid the confusion and extra cost incurred by changing their product labels twice - first to comply with the changes to the Nutrition Facts label and again when the U.S. Department of Agriculture specifies how genetically engineered foods and ingredients need to be labeled".

Details of the extension, including a specific implementation date, will be provided through a Federal Register Notice, the FDA said.

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 company argued the physiological effects of sugar were the same between naturally-occurring and added, processed sugars. The deadline for large producers was July 26, 2018, while those making less than $10 million in annual food sales had an additional year. The agency ultimately disagreed.

Food makers hailed the extension as "reasonable and practical", in the words of Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C. -based Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Among the early adopters are Nabisco/Mondelez, which has rolled the labels out on its Wheat Thins crackers; PepsiCo, which has put them on Lay's chips, Fritos and Cheetos; and KIND, which makes granola bars.

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.

The Food and Drug Administration released the changes late last spring. 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. 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 one-year delay came a day before industry was due to comply.

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