Nutrition Facts Label: US FDA proposes extending compliance dates to 2020

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02 Oct 2017 --- In a move hailed by the food industry but decried by lobby groups, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to delay until January 1, 2020 the deadline for companies to update their Nutrition Facts labels to more prominently display calories and total sugar content and amend serving sizes.

The FDA is proposing to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule from July 26, 2018, to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with US$10 million or more in annual food sales. Under the proposal, manufacturers with less than US$10 million in annual food sales would receive until January 1, 2021.

The agency states that this proposal only pertains to the compliance dates and will not result in any other changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and Serving Size final rules. 

Noting that it: “is committed to making sure that consumers have the facts they need to make informed decisions about their diet and the foods they feed their families,”  the agency says in a statement posted on September 29 that the compliance date extension comes in response to: “the continued concern that companies and trade associations have shared with us regarding the time needed for implementation of the final rules.”

“These stakeholders expressed concerns about their ability to update all products by the original compliance dates and the importance of obtaining clarification from the FDA on a number of technical issues relating to the final rules,” the agency continues.

Written or electronic comments on the extension of the compliance dates are being accepted by the FDA for 30 days, beginning today. 

A number of consumer advocacy groups, including non-profit watchdog the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), have decried the FDA’s proposal for delay.

“Despite the critical public health need for the updated labels, the Trump Administration has yielded to the industry’s arguments that it will cost it too much to meet the original deadlines. The FDA also blamed its favorite scapegoat, the Obama Administration, for rushing the agency to implement the new requirements and giving it too little time to provide guidance to the industry,” CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie says in a statement on the group’s website. “We can hope the FDA reverses course once it hears from the public, but so far, all too often, the Trump Administration has displayed a tin ear for public health.”

The final rule for Nutrition Facts updates was initially published in May 2016, and received praise from lobby groups and then-US First Lady Michelle Obama. For a full list of updates, see a previous story on FoodIngredientsFirst, when the news first broke in May last year. 

By Lucy Gunn

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