Last year, consumers and public health advocates cheered when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that food labels would be getting a long overdue makeover.
The newly redesigned label would – for the first time ever – list the amount of added sugars a product contains. It would also include a lower Daily Value for sodium to encourage consumers to eat less, and would more prominently display the number of calories, the serving size, and the number of servings per container.
Unfortunately, a recent FDA proposal threatens to turn those cheers into tears. The FDA wants to give food companies more time to begin using the new label on their food products. Under the FDA proposal, companies would have an additional 18 months to comply!
If the FDA proposal is finalized, large companies would now have until January 2020 to update their labels, and smaller companies would have until January 2021.
The American Heart Association thinks this is too long to wait for updated nutrition information. Consumers need updated nutrition information now to help them compare products and make informed, healthier decisions.
There is also no need for the delay. While some members of the food industry say they need more time to redesign and update their packaging, many food companies regularly update their product labeling in less time. Examples compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest show companies routinely update their packages for many reasons, such as to reflect holiday seasons or tie-in to movie themes.
In addition, many companies are already using the revised label on their products. At least 8,000 products – from apple juice to ice cream and crackers to cookies – can be found with the new nutrition label, showing that food companies can meet the original compliance deadlines (July 2018 for larger companies and July 2019 for smaller companies).
Join us in asking the FDA to keep the original compliance deadlines. Consumers should not have to wait any longer for updated, easy-to-understand nutrition information.
11-2-17 UPDATE - The FDA has closed the period for public comments. Thank you everyone who took action!