FDA Officially Extends Nutrition Facts Label Compliance Date

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Washington, D.C. – Food manufacturers have received an 18-month extension for meeting updated nutrition and serving size requirements on product labels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule — published in the Federal Register — saying it was extending compliance dates for providing updated nutrition information on the labels of food, including dietary supplements.

For manufacturers with more than $10 million in annual food sales, compliance dates have shifted from July 26, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2020.  For manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales, compliance dates have shifted from July 26, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2021.

As WholeFoods Magazine reported in March, the FDA announced – after many delays – the updated rules for parts of its consumer nutrition facts label involving the definition of added sugars.

The new labels, first announced in 2016, list calories in a larger font, serving sizes that are more realistic to what Americans eat on average, and have a new space on the label for added sugars.

While the old label lists total grams of sugars, it doesn’t distinguish between sugars that are naturally occurring in foods like fruits and vegetables, and sugars that meet the definition of added sugars. The new label now includes added sugars in grams and as percent Daily Value. “Added sugars” are regarded as worse than sugars occurring naturally in, say, fruit.

In a statement issued yesterday, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the industry needed more time to make the changes. When the rule was first proposed, it drew more than 50,000 comments from the public. “This extension on the Nutrition Facts label regulation will help ensure that we provide the food industry with guidance to help them modernize their Nutrition Facts labels and that industry has sufficient time to complete and print updated Nutrition Facts labels.

“It’s crucial that we provide clear expectations so that industry can meet them. It’s just as important for consumers to be able to effectively use the updated food labels, and we’re launching a major educational campaign for consumers to help them better understand the new nutrition information that they’ll be seeing in the marketplace,” Gottlieb said.

In a tweet from the FDA, the agency acknowledged that some food products had already updated their nutrition facts label. But, “Considering 50,000+ stakeholder comments, the FDA recognizes the need for manufacturers to have additional time to make required changes.”

The Natural Products Association (NPA) declared victory following the news. According to president and CEO Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D, the association worked directly to influence the FDA’s final decision. “NPA was out in front on this issue from day one, and we are pleased to see the Administration keep its promise to protect consumers and small businesses from burdensome regulations.  This is a big win for our industry but more importantly for consumers that will save hundreds of millions of dollars because of our efforts.  This is what NPA does in Washington on behalf of its members and the millions of American consumers that use our products every day.”

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