HomeUncategorizedPotential New Head of FDA Open to Delaying Nutrition Facts Label Changes
Potential New Head of FDA Open to Delaying Nutrition Facts Label Changes
As previously covered on this blog, in May 2016, FDA issued final rules to implement changes to the nutrition and dietary supplement labeling and serving size regulations. Mandatory compliance with the new nutrition labeling requirements for food products that are initially introduced into interstate commerce is currently slated for July 26, 2018 (or July 26, 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales). As the compliance deadline steadily approaches, some in the industry have sought to delay the rule’s implementation. For example, as reported on this blog last week, the dairy industry requested a compliance date delay at a House Agriculture Committing hearing on March 22, 2017.
The food industry generally appears to agree that a compliance date delay should be put in place. In a recent letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Thomas Price, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and trade groups representing bakers, corn refiners, confectioners, millers, and meat and dairy producers requested a compliance date delay until May 2021, writing that:
“The current compliance deadline does not sufficiently account for the time, resources, and complexity involved in label changes of this magnitude. 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 . . . Additionally, to change essentially every single food package in the U.S. requires testing and analyzing products, entering ingredient information into databases, new label and packaging designs, new printing plates, and queuing up in line with printing companies. The process requires coordination among software vendors, ingredient suppliers, compliance/quality assurance teams, graphic designers, printing companies and others on a scale of magnitude that has never before been executed . . . This untenable situation is exacerbated by the fact that as of today, with only 16 months left in the implementation period, FDA has yet to issue final guidance on how to define and properly calculate two common food ingredients: dietary fiber and added sugar . . . Moreover, immediately after the July 26, 2018 compliance date for the NFL [Nutrition Facts Label], USDA is mandated to finish the biotechnology disclosure rule on July 29, 2018. 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.”
With industry pressing for a compliance date delay for the new requirements and the potential new head of the FDA appearing amenable to considering such a delay, it appears increasingly likely that implementation of the rule could very well be postponed, possibly through May 2021. We will continue to keep a close eye on any developments in this regard and report them to you here.