IDFA submitted comprehensive comments last week to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label. Overall, IDFA agreed that updating the label is important to ensure that consumers get the information they need and that it reflects the best nutritional science available. However, a number of the proposed changes raised concerns about the underlying science and their likely impact on consumer understanding.
In fact, IDFA asked FDA to carefully revisit the proposed rule with special consideration given to the agency’s legal authority for the proposed revisions and to consistency with the best available scientific evidence, including dietary recommendations and consumer research. IDFA also urged the agency to set a compliance date of four years after the effective date.
Nutrient Content Claims
FDA’s proposal would increase the daily value of some nutrients like calcium, potassium and vitamin D so many products would lose their ability to make nutrient content claims, such as “excellent source of calcium and vitamin D” or “good source of potassium,” despite no change to the products themselves. IDFA asked FDA to consider the impact of the proposed changes on the eligibility of foods to qualify for content claims and to consider the potential consumer confusion that would result.
In addition, IDFA asked FDA to allow higher levels of vitamin D fortification in dairy products so they could continue to meet “good” or “excellent” source claims.
Added Sugars Declaration
IDFA opposed the proposal to require a declaration of added sugars, saying it would not “assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices,” which is the legal standard for adding a new nutrient under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. No scientific support exists for distinguishing between “added sugar” and “naturally occurring” sugars, IDFA explained, noting that the body doesn’t distinguish a difference between naturally occurring and added sugars.
If FDA does finalize the requirement to declare added sugars, IDFA said the definition would need significant revision and must be consistent with the definition for the “no added sugar” claim. Also, lactose and milk ingredients containing lactose, such as dried milk, concentrated milk and whey, should not be included in the added sugars definition.
Serving Size and Reference Amounts
IDFA provided recommendations regarding proposed changes to serving sizes of foods that can be consumed in one eating occasion and the modifications to reference amount customarily consumed (RACC), which is the basis for labeling a serving in multi-serving packages. IDFA urged FDA to keep the RACC for ice cream at ½ cup rather than the proposed 1 cup and not split the ice cream category into one for bulk ice cream and one for novelty ice cream. If FDA determines the RACC for ice cream should be split to provide a separate category for novelties, then a ¾ cup measure for ice cream should be set based on current consumption data and product composition.
IDFA supported FDA changes for the RACC serving size of yogurt to be reduced from 8 ounces to 6 ounces.
IDFA agreed with FDA that there is insufficient evidence to support lowering the Daily Value for sodium from 2400 mg to 1500 mg. IDFA recommended that FDA convene a credible scientific panel to consider all recent research concerning sodium and health, and to recommend a new Dietary Reference Value for sodium.
Pointing out the large costs of product reformulation and revisions to packages and labeling associated with these changes, which would require updates to every retail package of foods and beverages sold in the United States, IDFA asked for an extended compliance date of four years following the publication of the final rule for all proposed changes.
For more information, members may contact Michelle Matto, IDFA consultant on nutrition and labeling, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at email@example.com.