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Consumers not getting clear information due to the FDA’s delay of the revamped Nutrition Facts label

The Food and Drug Administration is extending the deadline for industry to comply with the revised Nutrition Facts, following requests for more time from producers, manufacturers and trade groups to implement the new labeling requirements.

This delay beyond 2018 will prevent consumers from being more aware of the total calories, sugar and sodium in the processed food products they buy in the marketplace, according to Virginia Tech’s Vivica Kraak, a recognized expert in food and nutrition policies.

“Many Americans do not do a good job of taking advantage of the Nutrition Facts label to inform the most healthful food and beverage product purchases.  I believe the revised changes to the label will increase people’s awareness about portion sizes and the total calories in the products they buy and consume,” said Kraak, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.

“It will also likely drive industry reformulation to reduce the total and single-serving calories and added sugars in packaged products and encourage companies to innovate and make healthier products that have smaller and resealable packages.”

The Obama administration proposed nutrition label improvements in March 2014 that the FDA finalized in 2016, to help consumers make better-informed food and beverage product choices to reduce obesity risk and promote good health.

The initial compliance date for large food and beverage manufacturers was July 26, 2018. An additional year was allowed for smaller manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million dollars. Certain companies indicated that they needed more time to comply with the labeling requirements, and some have requested as late as 2021.

“The FDA conducted a study with the analysis of the impacts of the Nutrition Facts label changes and estimated that they would translate into $78 billion dollars of benefits to consumers over 20 years compared to $4.6 billion cost to companies for making the change. The cost benefit was in favor of consumers rather than companies,” Kraak said.

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