FDA delays labeling requirements that had drawn industry opposition

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.

"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 agency said in an update on its website.

In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said food and beverage companies want to help people make informed choices, but the "fast-approaching compliance deadline" was hard to meet without final guidance from the FDA on certain details.

The revised nutrition label would make the calorie counts on packaged food and drinks more prominent, adjust serving sizes to be more realistic and specify the amount of added sugars in products.

The FDA said it would provide details on the extension at a later date. "Just like with the menu-labeling delay, this administration is denying consumers critical information they need to make decisions, and it's throwing the food industry into disarray".

The Food and Drug Administration said it has determined that manufactures need additional time beyond the July 26, 2018 compliance date to complete and print new labels for their products. 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.

The debate over the Nutrition Facts deadline has exposed some interesting schisms in industry.

In the past, IDFA has urged government officials to align the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts label changes with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, which is required by law to be issued by July 2018. Mondelez has rolled out the new, boldfaced label on its Wheat Thins boxes while PepsiCo did so on its Fritos, Cheetos and Lay's snacks. It also labels added sugars.

The FDA, who initially proposed a nutrition facts label change in March 2014, said it wanted "to reflect updated scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease". Many other large food companies have also begun designing and printing the labels, anticipating a 2018 deadline.

"FDA's common-sense decision will reduce consumer confusion and costs", said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA's president and CEO. Many restaurants, like McDonald's and Perkins, have already listed calories on menus.

  • Zachary Reyes