Nutrition label changes delayed Industries point to cost and time; consumer advocates disagree.

Author:Kenny, Jack
Position:FRONT Row

A few years back this space was devoted to an examination of the plans for revised nutrition panels on food and beverages in the United States.The changes will certainly require packaging alterations and newly designed labels, but the biggest impact will be on the product marketers themselves.

The revisions, mandated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), were scheduled to take effect in July 2018, and in July 2019 for smaller manufacturers. Those deadlines were scrapped in June, and the FDA said that the delay in implementation of the new Nutrition Facts Panels on labels would be indefinite.

The postponement of the deadlines is the result of two factors: a changing political view in Washington DC between the previous and the current presidential administrations on the subject of regulations, and strong lobbying from groups and companies in the food and beverage industries.

The fact that the FDA has not set a new deadline for the changes has baffled some observers. It will be "a little longer, or much longer, or much, much longer (or never) before you see these previously reported planned changes in the nutrition facts label," wrote Bruce Y. Lee in Forbes magazine.

A bit of historical perspective: In 1980, the FDA became involved with an initiative to improve the content and format of food labels. The first dietary guidelines were published. A decade later, nutrition labeling became a requirement through the Nutrition Labeling & Education Act.

In 2002 the Nutrition Label Reform and public commenting began. In 2014. dozen years later, the FDA proposed two rules on which it requested public comment for the changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel and the Reference Amount Customarily Consumed, which we know as "serving sizes."

The FDA held a comment period in 2015 for supplemental rules, which included a percent daily value (%DV) for added sugar. Last year, the final rules were published, mandating that the new nutrition label be included on packaging by July 26, 2018.


The overall look of the new nutrition panel will change under the regulation. The most significant alteration is that the calorie count per serving will be printed in a much larger bold font for easier visibility. Other changes include:

* An added sugars declaration will be shown, as well as a %DV for added sugars;

* Calories from fat will no longer be included. Consumers found this item to be confusing, researchers say, because it did not provide usable...

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