Changes to the Nutrition Facts panel will not be required as of June 2018.
On Tuesday this week the FDA made an announcement that the expected Nutrition Facts changes will be delayed, without any specification for how long. It’s been a little over a year ago, that under the Obama Administration the new guidelines were announced - changes that were expected to happen as of June 2018.
The FDA’s site reads, "After careful consideration, the FDA determined that additional time would 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. As a result, the FDA intends to extend the compliance dates to provide the additional time for implementation. The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs... The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time."
While it has been clear that a fair amount of members in the food industry have been pushing for a delay over the last year, but consumer groups have been interested in seeing the deadline met.
The current label is more than 20 years old, and the changes were created to reflect current scientific information and new nutrition and public health information. Some of these changes include a larger font for “calories” and “serving size” as well as the addition of “added sugars” and removal of “calories from fat” as updated information shows that type of fat is more important than the amount. Among other changes, the footnote has been reworked to give consumers a clearer understanding of what % Daily Value really means.
But there’s a new twist in the story of these changes that recently came about under the new administration. Already, USDA has until July, 2018 to finish the required rule for GMO labeling. Some feel that it may be unfair to require food companies to revamp their Nutrition Facts labels and then shortly afterwards redo their packaging to include whatever the GMO requirement ends up being. The twist being that just this year, the FDA announced a $3 million dollar GMO education campaign that’s goal is to clear up misinformation about agricultural biotech.
It will be interesting to see how soon a deadline is agreed upon for compliance with the new label requirements, while in the meantime, the latest World Obesity Report shows the U.S. at the top of the list with 38.2% of the population measured as obese. And studies continue to suggest consumers are confused about labels as far as what is “healthy,” according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s (IFIC) 2017 Food and Health Survey.