Upcoming FDA Guidance May Alter Nutrition Label Information
In an effort to clarify food nutrition labels across the country, federal health officials plans to issue new guidance for manufacturers and restaurants, which will help provide clearly and consistently stated calorie and nutrition information.
The FDA released a statement on August 25, indicating new regulatory guidance will be issued by the end of this year, which is designed to make nutrition labels uniform across the country in restaurants and other covered establishments. The effort is intended to avoid confusion and allow individuals to make healthier food choices.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said the new regulatory guidance is being established to provide additional, practical guidance on menu labeling requirements to ensure consistency in nutrition labeling, rather than allowing establishments to provide them under limited guidance.
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“Americans should not have to navigate variable information about the foods they eat when traveling from state to state—or city to city,” Gottlieb said in the statement. “Inconsistent state and local requirements may also drive up the cost of food, and sow confusion, by requiring restaurants and other covered establishments to post different information based on location.”
Gottlieb claims that without these provisions, inconsistent state and local requirements to disclosure nutritional information could drive the cost of certain food items up, or create confusion to consumers when interpreting label information.
However, what the guidelines will ultimately look like is uncertain, given the administration’s push for deregulation.
In June, the FDA indefinitely delayed compliance deadlines for new nutrition facts label final rules issued in May 2016. Originally, a compliance deadline was set for July 26, 2018. It would have required larger, bold print for serving sizes, recalibration of serving sizes, a category for “Added Sugars” and other requirements.
Establishments to be most likely impacted by the upcoming guidance are those operating chains across several states, where nutrition labeling requirements are different per state, leaving customers traveling from state to state to navigate variable information. The guidance would implement a uniform labeling system that will decrease confusion among food content.
The FDA holds the responsibility for setting useful and clear labeling information on food products across the nation, and claims that current rules have caused state by state confusion. Gottlieb stated the new regulatory guidance is being designed around thousands of responses and comments from the public, who posed questions on how the FDA should approach a uniform standard of nutrition labeling.
The labeling regulation is set to be completed and implemented by the end of this year, and would provide detailed instruction to establishments on how to meet their obligations under the new guidance. Current progress has put the FDA on track to have the policies implemented and have all establishments in compliance by next year’s compliance date.
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