On June 13, FDA announced it is extending the compliance date for food and beverage manufacturers to implement the updated Nutrition Facts label that was approved in last summer. FDA did not give new dates for compliance, but stated the “extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace."
In May 2016, FDA finalized the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Label and Serving Size final rules and set the compliance date for July 26, 2018, with an additional year to comply for manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million. After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates. After careful consideration, the agency determined 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. Details of the extension will be provided through a Federal Register Notice at a later time.
The sweeping overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label is the first in 20 years and includes modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updating serving size requirements, and providing a refreshed design. The regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
In 2014, FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor estimated the cost to industry at around $2 billion, although he said the regulations are projected to yield $20 billion to $30 billion in economic benefits. FDA estimated the sweeping proposal would impact roughly 60,000 manufacturers and more than 700,000 Universal Product Codes, representing approximately $236.78 billion in sales in grocery stores, drug stores and mass merchandise stores.
This is not the first time FDA has been affected by the new Administration. In May 2017, President Trump unveiled a budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) that would reduce expenditures for food-safety programs at FDA, drawing criticism from consumer groups who doubted Congress would support the White House’s plan. The budget includes $1.3 billion for food safety across FDA programs—a reduction of $83 million from funding appropriated in the FY17 continuing resolution, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) disclosed in a summary of FDA’s budget.