FDA delays rule requiring new nutrition facts panel on food

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The agency then set a first compliance deadline of July 26, 2018 (for larger manufacturers) and a later deadline of July 2019 for the many smaller packaged foods businesses with annual sales of less than $10 million.

The revised nutrition facts panel would make the calorie counts on packaged food and drinks more prominent, adjust serving sizes to be more realistic and specify the amount of added sugars in products.

The FDA said it would provide details on the extension at a later date.

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 nutrition facts panel needs to be easier to understand so that consumers can make more informed food decisions", said Arlene Stein.

"The ability of the Trump administration to repeat its mistakes is breathtaking", said Jim O'Hara, the director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"If some food labels change and others do not, it will make it more hard for consumers to compare foods and make a healthier choice", said Stein, who's a nutrition support dietitian at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

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In details posted on its website on Tuesday, the FDA said it would provide details of the extension later.

"We listened to the industry and consumer feedback", said Anne Norris, Health Communications specialist with the FDA.

Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label, along with calcium, and iron but vitamins A and C will no longer be required.

Among the early adopters are Nabisco/Mondelez, which has rolled the labels out on its Wheat Thins crackers; PepsiCo, which has put them on Lay's chips, Fritos and Cheetos; and KIND, which makes granola bars.

"We support this because we believing in giving consumers more transparency", Figel said. The company argued the physiological effects of sugar were the same between naturally-occurring and added, processed sugars.

"But the fast-approaching compliance deadline was virtually impossible to meet without the needed final guidance documents from FDA".

Now, in announcing an extension of the compliance date, the FDA issued this statement: "The agency is mindful of the importance of balancing its mission of protecting public health with the practicalities of implementing the amended labeling requirements". Many restaurants, like McDonald's and Perkins, have already listed calories on menus.