Nutrition Facts Panel Delayed

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Jun 13, 2017

The FDA today (June 13) published a notice that it intends to extend the compliance dates for the revamped Nutrition Facts panel to give the food & beverage industry more time to prepare. A new deadline was not immediately set, but the agency promised a Federal Register notice coming soon.

In May 2016, the agency finalized the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Label and Serving Size final rules and set the compliance date for July 26, 2018 for most food processors; manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million were given an additional year to comply.

"After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates," the agency said in today's notice. "After careful consideration, the FDA determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance.

"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," today's notice said. "The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time."

Notes of thanks quickly came from representatives of the food & beverage industry.

“FDA’s common-sense decision will reduce consumer confusion and costs,” said Pamela Bailey, president/CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Assn. “Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to giving consumers the information and tools they need to make informed choices, such as by updating the Nutrition Facts Panel. But the fast-approaching compliance deadline was virtually impossible to meet without the needed final guidance documents from FDA. FDA’s extension is both reasonable and practical.”

"Dairy foods companies … appreciate the extra time to be sure that the information on the labels is complete and accurate,” said Cary Frye, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at International Dairy Foods Assn.

"Today’s decision by the Trump administration … was the right decision," added Michelle Minton, consumer policy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Nutrition information is important to American consumers, but federal regulators were about to impose burdens on our nation’s food companies while making nutrition labels harder for consumers to interpret. Including 'added sugars' and 'total sugars' on a label can be confusing, with some consumers unsure which number they should consider when making decisions about their diet and health. Worse, studies find that altering serving sizes from a recommended portion to what people typically eat per serving — one of the proposed label changes — actually results in people eating more food. If the FDA is going to enact regulations that provide value to consumers, those regulations must be based on science – not just good intentions."

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