The food industry is cheering and health experts are jeering the USDA’s announcement on Friday that it is proposing to push new nutrition label requirements back by a year and a half.
According to the USDA, the new compliance date for large companies with more than $10 million in annual sales would be January 1, 2020. Smaller companies would get an additional year to comply.
Why the rule was issued
The rule, which was finalized in May 2016, is intended to reduce obesity-related health problems in the U.S. It requires changes to the way calorie counts are displayed and requires revised serving sizes that would more realistically show the amount people actually eat.
Food manufacturers had said the original compliance dates did not give them sufficient time to implement the rule.
“FDA’s new compliance date will provide companies with the necessary time to execute these updates to the Nutrition Facts Panel in a manner that will reduce consumer confusion and costs in the marketplace,” said the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in a statement.
Health organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) had a somewhat different take on the change.
“Not only is this extension extremely frustrating from a public health perspective, but it is also unnecessary,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “Companies frequently update their labeling, and many are already revising the Nutrition Facts label on their products. What’s more, several companies have already committed to meeting the original compliance date.”
Brown said postponing compliance keeps people from obtaining valuable nutrition information. “Consumers need these facts to compare and select healthier options that can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease – our nation’s no. 1 and most costly killer,” said Brown.