Health Care

FDA delays rule requiring new nutrition facts panel on food

FDA delays rule requiring new nutrition facts panel on food

Only weeks after food industry lobbyists asked the Food and Drug Administration to delay the starting date for revised Nutrition Facts labels, their wish has been granted.

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. "Dairy foods companies are committed to giving consumers the information they need to make informed choices, and appreciate the extra time to be sure that the information on the labels is complete and accurate", said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs.

Issues included, among other things, "the need for upgrades to labeling software, getting nutrition information from suppliers, the number of products that would need new labels, and a limited time for the reformulation of products", said FDA spokesperson Deborah Kotz.

"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. For example, KIND Healthy Snacks said a year ago that it was on track to revise labels by July 2018. It did not provide a specific deadline.

The deadline for which the food industry must comply with the new labeling will be pushed back for an undisclosed time, the Associated Press reported.

When the menu-labeling delay was announced in May, Tom Price, Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, said the FDA would aim to make the rule more flexible and less burdensome, while still providing useful information to consumers.

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

Spokesman Brad Figel noted that postponing the deadline for too long would result in there being two nutrition facts panels in the marketplace for an extended period of time.

Unsurprisingly, the FDA's decision to extend the compliance date was applauded by the Big Food groups.

"There's just been a lot of pressure to extend the deadline", Figel said.

The rule, which had been championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, had been scheduled to go into effect on July 26, 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.

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