If you were hoping for more accurate nutrition labels on everything from ice cream to breakfast cereal, you’re going to have to wait a little longer.
The Food and Drug Administration is delaying the deadline for revamped nutrition food labels, pushing back a July 26 deadline that was going to apply to smaller food companies, those with annual food sales of less than $10 million. No new date has been set, according to FDA spokeswoman Deborah Kotz.
The postponement comes in response to companies’ and trade groups’ requests for more time.
The Nutrition Facts panel printed on food products lists information like the number of calories, serving size and the amount of fat, cholesterol, fiber and sugar.
“Numerous stakeholders have informed us that they have significant concerns about their ability to update all their labels by the compliance date due to issues regarding (among other things) the need for upgrades to labeling software, getting nutrition information from suppliers, the number of products that would need new labels and a limited time for the reformulation of products,” the FDA explained.
In addition, serving sizes have gotten larger, reflecting the reality of Americans’ eating habits. For example, a pint of ice cream will contain three, not four, servings on the new labels. Soft drinks in both 12-ounce and 20-ounce bottles of drinks will be identified as single serving. The current serving size requirements are 24 years old, according to the FDA.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a proponent of the new food labels.
In May, the FDA pushed off the compliance date for chain restaurants to prominently display calorie counts for standard menu items and have available additional nutrition information, like the amount of total fat, sodium and total carbohydrates in foods. The rule had been expected to take effect May 5, but is now May 7, 2018. Among those affected are chains with 20 or more locations, supermarkets with menu items, bakeries and ice cream parlors.
The FDA, which initially proposed a nutrition facts label change in March 2014, said wanted “to reflect updated scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better-informed food choices.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association said it was pleased with the FDA’s delaying the compliance deadline, because the agency has not yet issued final guidance on added sugars and dietary fibers that companies need to make label updates. The association said the previous deadline wasn’t realistic.
“FDA’s common-sense decision will reduce consumer confusion and costs,” President Pamela Bailey said. “Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to giving consumers the information and tools they need to make informed choices, such as by updating the Nutrition Facts Panel. But the fast-approaching compliance deadline was virtually impossible to meet.”