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FDA delays labeling requirements that had drawn industry opposition

14 June 2017

This photo provided by the Food and Drug Administration shows a side-by-side comparison of the old, left, and new food nutrition facts labels.

General Mills, in multiple comments submitted to the FDA in 2014 and 2015 before the final labeling rule, voiced strong opposition to the requirement that companies call out how many grams of added sugars are included in each product's total sugar. The "decision by the Trump administration to delay a new round of food labeling mandates was the right decision", Michelle Minton, a consumer policy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote in a statement.

When the menu-labeling delay was announced in May, Tom Price, Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, said the FDA would aim to make the rule more flexible and less burdensome, while still providing useful information to consumers.

Specifically, the revamped label would make information on calorie counts more prominent, make serving sizes easier to understand, and point to the amount of added sugars a food or drink contains.

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Large companies originally had until July 26, 2018 to switch to the new labels while smaller food companies were given one additional year to make the change.

"We listened to the industry and consumer feedback", said Anne Norris, Health Communications specialist with the FDA.

Still, any additional time provided through the extension is meant to "provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance". "The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time".

"FDA's common-sense decision will reduce consumer confusion and costs", President Pamela Bailey said.

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The news is only the latest such move from the FDA, which delayed a calorie labeling rule for national restaurant chains by a year, until May 2018. "Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to giving consumers the information and tools they need to make informed choices, such as by updating the Nutrition Facts Panel".

"There's just been a lot of pressure to extend the deadline", Figel said.

But some companies may already be on track to meet the previous deadline.

Spokesman Brad Figel noted that postponing the deadline for too long would result in there being two nutrition facts panels in the marketplace for an extended period of time.

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FDA delays labeling requirements that had drawn industry opposition