Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
Economy | By Guillermo Lane

FDA to delay rule requiring new nutrition facts panel

FDA to delay rule requiring new nutrition facts panel

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

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers with a membership of almost 525 companies within a $125-billion a year industry.

It's the Trump administration's latest delay of the Obama administration's rules meant to improve food labeling and make foods healthier and safer.

This is the mock-up of the FDA's proposed nutrition label unveiled in 2014.

The Food and Drug Administration has delayed the deadline for food companies to adopt a new Nutrition Facts label on food and beverage packages. The agency had previously set a deadline of July 26, 2018, for the new panel, which was meant to make it easier for people to understand how much they're eating.

The Nutrition Facts panel printed on food products lists information like the number of calories, serving size and the amount of fat, cholesterol, fiber and sugar.

Previously, the FDA had given companies until July 26, 2018, to comply, with smaller food makers getting an extra year. "The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time".

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In an April letter [PDF] to new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, executives from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and various other food industry trade and lobbying groups say that while they remain committed to implementing the new rules in order to provide customers with "clear information to help them make healthy choices", but they think this can be accomplished with "far less complexity and cost".

"The current compliance deadline does not sufficiently account for the time, resources and complexity involved in label changes of this magnitude", the groups, which included the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the North American Meat Institute, said.

Jim O'Hara, director of health promotion policy for CSPI, said that the delay will only cause confusion as some companies switch to the new label as planned, ahead of others.

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

"We support this because we believing in giving consumers more transparency", Figel said.

In May, the FDA pushed off the compliance date for chain restaurants to prominently display calorie counts for standard menu items and have available additional nutrition information, like the amount of total fat, sodium and total carbohydrates in foods.

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