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Alliance Calls for Harmonized Compliance Dates on Label Changes

Oct 26, 2016

IDFA and 30 other trade association members of the Food and Beverage Industry Alliance urged government officials last week to align the compliance dates for two mandatory label changes that will require labeling revisions to hundreds of thousands of products. They are the Food and Drug Administration’s Nutrition Facts label changes and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, which is required by law to be issued in two years.

In a letter to the government agencies overseeing these changes, the alliance noted that most food and beverage companies will have less than two years to redesign their Nutrition Facts labels to meet the compliance deadline of July 26, 2018, and FDA hasn’t issued additional guidance documents on added sugars and dietary fiber that some companies need to make the changes.

To complicate matters, Congress has mandated that USDA must issue its bioengineered foods standard by July 29, 2018. This means that only days after all food labels are required to be in compliance with FDA’s Nutrition Facts changes, companies must begin again to redesign labels and re-label products.

“The costs incurred may range anywhere from $250 - $6,000 per SKU, with industry-wide cost upwards in the billions of dollars, costs that will ultimately trickle down to consumers. While the impact is industry-wide, small business will be particularly affected,” the alliance members said in the letter. “Repeating this scenario back-to-back twice – once for the [Nutrition Facts label] and a second time for GE disclosures – will be unduly burdensome and enormously wasteful across every impacted sector.”

The alliance also called for harmonization, when possible, of other regulatory requirements for food labels, including nutrient content claims and health claims, the voluntary sodium reduction targets, the vending machine labeling rule and parts of the menu labeling rule.

The letter went to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration; Shaun Donovan, director of Office of Management and Budget; and Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture at USDA. The alliance members asked the officials to respond by Dec. 1, the date they said food and beverage companies would no longer be able to delay making changes to their Nutrition Facts labels.

“The food industry is fully committed to making all the mandated changes, but we are requesting an implementation process that does not require multiple label changes and is cognizant of the time, complexity, and cost involved in making such changes,” the letter said.

Read the letter here.

For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at

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