FDA Extends Comment Period for New Nutritional Labeling

FDA Extends Comment Period for New Nutritional Labeling Photo: Cathy Kaplan/iStockphoto.com.

Federal food regulators want to better tackle obesity and heart disease, so the Food and Drug Administration is giving consumers, food manufacturers and other interested parties more time to comment on proposed changes to nutrition labels.

The comment period on the two proposed rules for nutritional labeling is being extended by 60 days until August 1.

Nutritional labels were introduced 20 years ago with the intent of helping consumers make informed choices about their food and diets. Now, food regulators want to make sure that consumers are aware of how many calories there are in a food package in order to address obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

One big change would be to add a large line explaining how many serving sizes there are per container or package. “This way, people would be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package at one time,” the FDA said.

Read about the proposed changes here.

A new category will be created for empty-calorie “added sugars” that are not naturally occurring in food. “This proposal takes into account new data and information, including recommendations from federal agencies and information from other expert groups, citizen petitions and public comments, the FDA said. “For example, the dietary guidelines for Americans recommend reducing caloric intake from added sugars and solid fats because eating these can cause people to eat less of nutrient-rich foods and can also increase how many calories they take in overall.”

Federal regulators are no longer going to require that vitamins A and C be listed on food labels because deficiencies in those vitamins are not common. But regulators want to add Vitamin D and potassium to the “Nutrition Facts” label because Vitamin D is important in bone health and potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure

“We are not proposing to change the ‘iconic’ look of the label,” the agency said.

The FDA also plans to conduct an experimental study to help consumers understand the percent daily value part of nutritional labeling.

Manufacturers would have two years to comply with the requirements after they become final.

Amaris Elliott-Engel contributes to law.com.