The New Nutrition Labels Are Being Delayed (Again). But Another Label May Soon Be Mandatory
If you were hoping to see the new, easier-to-read nutrition labels on products in your supermarket this summer, you'll just have to wait. The Food and Drug Administration announced that it's pushing back the deadline until 2020.
The FDA published its new guidelines on nutritional labels (which will include several changes, including listing added sugars) back in 2016. But the national agency has delayed the release of the new labels several times.
According to an announcement posted by the FDA, manufacturers earning $10 million or more a year have until Jan. 1, 2020 to implement the new labels. But those who net less have until 2021 to do so.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb explains that the delay ensures that all food brands will have time to successfully adopt the new updated nutrition facts labels, which includes things like added sugar, a new serving size rule, and a more visible list of vitamins and minerals.
"It's crucial that we provide clear expectations so that industry can meet them. It's just as important for consumers to be able to effectively use the updated food labels, and we're launching a major educational campaign for consumers to help them better understand the new nutrition information that they'll be seeing in the marketplace," Gottlieb said in the internal news release.
Just after news of the delay broke, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a new proposed rule that would force certain manufacturers to advertise when products contain genetically modified ingredients.
It's a move that comes after a years-long debate on whether or not foods should be clearly labeled as containing genetically modified ingredients—and after Congress passed a mandatory labeling law in 2016.
But as the Washington Post points out, some are disappointed that the USDA's proposed rule isn't as strict as they'd hope for it to be.
The rule exempts products made with genetically-modified sugars and oils, and also those foods that contain GMOs in a smaller amount than a prescribed threshold. And it's possible the label will term the ingredients "bioengineered" to avoid bad connotations with the phrase "genetically modified."
Food manufacturers will have three different options to label their GMO-infused foods as so. It could be a one-liner on a label, such as "contains a bioengineered food ingredient", or a standardized graphic—or even a QR code that directs consumers to a webpage for more information.
Which kinds of foods will be exempt from the USDA's plan, you might ask? Things like soybeans, sugar beets, and highly refined sugars and oils would be excluded—but various consumer advocacy groups say that these exemptions cover as much as 70 percent of all GMO foods from being labeled, the Post writes.
The USDA proposal is now open to public comment and, unlike the new Nutrition Facts label, could be finalized as early as this summer.