The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is giving food and beverage manufacturers additional time to comply with labeling requirements that were supposed to take effect this year. The FDA has published a final rule to extend the compliance date for two rules, the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule and the Serving Size Final Rule, for about 1.5 years. The dates have been extended from July 26, 2018, to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales and from July 26, 2019, to January 1, 2021, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales. The final rules were published on May 27, 2016.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said the extension will give the agency time to provide the food industry guidance and for the industry to complete and print updated Nutrition Facts labels. “It’s crucial that we provide clear expectations so that industry can meet them,” Gottlieb said.

The FDA is also launching an educational campaign aimed at consumers to help them better understand the new nutrition information that they’ll be seeing in the marketplace.

The American Heart Association (AHA) said the delay was disappointing.

“The up-to-date information these new labels provide to consumers is critical,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “When it comes to diet, it’s important to choose carefully, because eating nutritious foods goes hand-in-hand with maintaining good cardiovascular health. Having key food facts easily accessible, enables consumers to make informed decisions.”

However, Brown noted that several major food manufacturers have publicly committed to meeting the original deadlines. As a result, more than 29,000 products on the market already have revised Nutrition Facts labels. 

“We urge food manufacturers who are still in the process of putting these labels on their products to do so as soon as possible and follow the commendable example of the companies who are already compliant,” said Brown. “When it’s time to dine, Americans should not only enjoy the food they are eating, they deserve to know what’s in it.”