FDA delays revamped nutrition facts panel

Posted June 14, 2017

Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label, along with calcium, and iron but vitamins A and C will no longer be required.

The new nutrition panel was created to make it easier for consumers to see how many calories and added sugars a product contained.

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.

In a letter sent earlier this year to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and other food industry groups had asked for an extension to 2021, the AP noted.

Specifically, the revamped label would make information on calorie counts more prominent, make serving sizes easier to understand, and point to the amount of added sugars a food or drink contains.

The agency then set a first compliance deadline of July 26, 2018 (for larger manufacturers) and a later deadline of July 2019 for the many smaller packaged foods businesses with annual sales of less than $10 million.

"Numerous stakeholders have informed us that they have significant concerns about their ability to update all their labels by the compliance date due to issues regarding (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", the FDA explained.

Details of the extension, including a specific implementation date, will be provided through a Federal Register Notice, the FDA said. It said food and beverage companies want to help people make informed choices, but that the "fast-approaching compliance deadline" was hard to meet without final guidance from the FDA on certain details.

"FDA's common-sense decision will reduce consumer confusion and costs", President Pamela Bailey said.

The FDA also recently delayed a rule that would require restaurants, grocery, and convenience store chains to post calorie counts for food. A week later, the Department of Agriculture loosened the minimum requirements for the amount of whole grain in school lunches and delayed future sodium reductions.

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

"We look forward to hearing from the FDA regarding the new compliance date and will adjust our plans accordingly", Bridget Christenson, a General Mills spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.