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Food Groups Want Nutrition Facts Compliance Delayed Until 2021
Current Compliance Deadline Is July 2018 For Most Companies; Cost, Biotech Labeling Rule Cited In Request
More than a dozen US food and beverage organizations this week asked US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to extend the compliance deadline for the Nutrition Facts and serving size final rules from the current deadline of July 2018 to May 2021.
Organizations signing the letter to Price included, among others, the International Dairy Foods Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, Food Marketing Institute, SNAC International, Infant Nutrition Council of America, National Confectioners Association, and The Association for Dressings & Sauces.
Member companies of the groups signing the letter “support providing consumers with clear information to help them make healthy choices and we are committed to implementing these rules,” But the groups believe that “this can be accomplished with far less complexity and cost.”
As demonstrated in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) own Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Nutrition Facts and serving size final rules, which were released last May, “additional time will avoid billions of dollars in wasteful spending on duplicative relabeling schemes, allow coordination with planned label updates, provide the FDA time to issue guidance that is critical for implementing key provisions of the rule, and create a timeline that will allow USDA to complete its work” on implementing the 2016 law that requires mandatory disclosure of ingredients produced with biotechnology, the groups wrote.
During the notice and comment process for the Nutrition Facts label update, the organizations that signed the letter to Price individually requested up to five years to comply in order to minimize the regulatory burden associated with the “massive task” of relabeling the entire food supply.
“Inexplicably, FDA provided only two years, setting the compliance deadline at July 26, 2018, for all but the smallest companies,” the letter noted. FDA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis found that the cost associated with a two-year compliance deadline could be as high as $4.6 billion and that could be reduced by almost $2 billion with a calculated cost of a four-year compliance deadline as high as $2.8 billion.
“Unfortunately, FDA, under the previous Administration, chose the option that is 39% more expensive,” the letter said.
“The current compliance deadline does not sufficiently account for the time, resources, and complexity involved in label changes of this magnitude,” the letter continued.
While a two-year compliance timeline may have been sufficient in the original Nutrition Facts panel rules issued in the 1990s, “the food and beverage world is much more complicated today,” the letter noted. “According to Nielsen data, 400,000 new prod-
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