Thomas Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
IDFA and 16 other food and beverage organizations today asked the secretary of Health and Human Services to give companies until May 2021 to comply with the new Nutrition Facts label regulations. In the letter to Secretary Thomas Price, the organizations said the additional time would allow companies to coordinate labeling updates, provide consumers with clear information to help them make healthy choices and avoid wasteful spending on duplicate relabeling schemes that would be required during the next four years.
The current deadline for compliance with the Nutrition Facts label rule is July 26, 2018.
“The current compliance deadline does not sufficiently account for the time, resources and complexity involved in label changes of this magnitude,” the organizations said in the letter. “While a two-year compliance timeline may have been sufficient for the original nutrition facts panel rules issued in the 1990s, the food and beverage world is much more complicated today. According to Nielsen data, 400,000 new products have been introduced since the early 1990s, which substantially affects the ability of manufacturers to change labels within the same timeframe allotted more than 20 years ago.”
FDA Guidance and USDA GMO Disclosure Rule
Two other issues have compounded the complex situation, they said. First, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue final guidance on how to define and calculate dietary fiber and added sugar, which must be listed in the new label format. Second, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is mandated by law to issue the GMO disclosure rule by July 29, 2018, three days after the compliance deadline for Nutrition Facts updates.
“This means that only three days after over 715,000 covered food and beverage products are required to be in compliance with FDA’s NFL rules, industry must again begin the expensive and time-consuming process to redesign labels and related materials and relabel their products to come into compliance with the biotechnology disclosure rule,” the organizations said.
In closing, the organizations said extending the compliance date to May 2021 would be the most cost-effective approach to achieve compliance for all labels and to ease the regulatory burden on the economy.
The letter also was sent to Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the acting FDA commissioner.
In addition to IDFA, the organizations signing the letter included the Corn Refiners Association, the American Frozen Food Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute. The letter and full list of organizations is available here.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.