On June 13, 2017, the FDA announced its intention to extend the compliance date for the Nutrition Facts Label final rules. The FDA is saying it will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time.
This extension was welcome news by the dietary supplement companies who were rushing meet the first-announced compliance date of July 26, 2018.
Some back story:
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Label and Serving Size final rules and set the compliance date for July 26, 2018, with an additional year to comply for manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million.
After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates. The FDA then determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance.
As a result, the FDA now intends to extend the compliance dates to provide the additional time for implementation. The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace.
In an article in Nutritional Outlook, writer Jennifer Prince states, “the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) was one of the groups who commended FDA for extending the deadline, noting that the agency has not yet issued final guidance on Nutrition Facts Panel overhauls related to added sugars and dietary fibers. “The extension,” GMA said, “allows the federal agency to complete the necessary final guidance documents and gives companies adequate time to make the Nutrition Facts Panel revisions.”
Since then there has been a new development worth noting. The Natural Products Association (NPA) has filed a formal petition asking FDA to shelve the agency’s proposed final rule that would enact changes to both the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels. In its petition, NPA claims that these changes overly burden the food and dietary supplement industries and run counter to the Trump administration’s goal of reducing unnecessary regulations.
Insiders say that one of the reasons for extending the compliance date given by industry was that labels will need to be changed again in 2021 when USDA’s GMO labeling disclosure requirements are expected to come into effect. Aligning the compliance dates for changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and GMO labeling disclosure requirements would eliminate the need to change labels twice, industry explained at a March 22, 2017 House Agriculture Committee hearing.
Michelle Minton, a consumer policy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute said in a statement, The "decision by the Trump administration to delay a new round of food labeling mandates was the right decision,". Minton added: "Federal regulators were about to impose burdens on our nation's food companies while making nutrition labels harder for consumers to interpret."
The FDA is said to announce new compliance dates in a Federal Register notice, but as of now, the jury is out as to when that will be. According to USA Today, the Federal Drug Administration has put an indefinite hold on rolling out the revised on food packaging because of "companies' and trade groups' requests for more time.”