The Trump administration announced yesterday that it will delay a rule requiring changes to nutritional labels on processed foods. The reason for pushing back the July 26, 2018 compliance date: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says manufacturers need more time to enact the changes.

The rule enacted under former President Obama and aimed at improving Americans' diet, reducing the obesity rate and preventing disease requires that labels emphasize the calorie count, include “added sugars” and show new serving sizes that represent the amount of food people actually eat.

"The framework for 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," the agency said in an update on its website. The FDA did not specify how long the delay will be.

"Impossible" to meet deadline

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) called the extension “reasonable and practical.”

“The fast-approaching compliance deadline was virtually impossible to meet without the needed final guidance documents from FDA,” said Pamela Bailey, the president and CEO of the GMA.

Industry's interests over public health

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown called the action “extremely disappointing, particularly because it comes on the heels of the FDA extending the menu labeling compliance deadline.” Brown said the FDA is putting industry’s concerns before the public’s health.

“Consumers need this immensely valuable nutritional information to help them make better choices when it comes to what they eat and drink,” said Brown. “We commend those food companies that are already using the new label, demonstrating that the new requirements are reasonable to implement. Consumers should not have to wait any longer to have the information they deserve to compare and select healthier options that can reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease—our nation’s no. 1 and most costly killer.”

Brown noted that the current label design is two decades old, and does not reflect the updates in nutrition and health information that have been made since that time.

Added sugar alert a big change

“The new version corrects this issue, and more prominently displays calorie counts and serving sizes, so that labels are easier to understand and plainly show exactly what products contain. The new label also alerts consumers to the amount of added sugars in their food for the first time – a huge step forward in helping Americans reduce their added sugars intake.”