Slow Motion

Really? FDA Should Slow Down?

New Nutrition Facts Label, FinalHere’s a news flash you don’t see every day. Industry says FDA should slow down. Usually drug and medical device companies are complaining that the agency doesn’t move fast enough. Food companies now are saying that FDA shouldn’t move so fast on requiring new and improved nutrition labels on food products.

FDA Commissioner Nominee “Delighted” to Consider Slowing Things Down

The nominee to lead FDA, Scott Gottlieb, had his Senate confirmation hearing this week. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) asked about postponing the deadline for putting new Nutrition Facts labels on food products. Gottlieb said he would be “delighted” to work on that.

Consumer advocates are not so delighted.

“It is mind-boggling that the food industry is fighting transparency and consumer information even though that’s exactly what their customers want,” said CSPI President Michael Jacobson. “Not only is industry undermining the public’s health – it is undermining its own credibility.”

Reluctant to Disclose Added Sugar

The current Nutrition Facts label is more than 20 years old. Back then, fat was the boogeyman. Now, people worry about sugar – especially added sugar. So FDA is asking companies to disclose how much sugar they’ve added to their products. FDA finalized the change in early 2016. Food companies have until July 2018 to implement it.

Infographic: Labeling for Added SugarsCompanies that add a lot of sugar to products with health halos – we’re looking at you, yogurt – hate this change. No wonder. Bakers are not too happy with it, either. Consumers are eating a lot of added sugar in baked goods and don’t realize it. That’s because right now they have no way to know how much has been added.

Who isn’t worried? Big soda. For years now, they’ve been the only ones taking all the heat for sugar. Soda consumption has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, so soda has little left to lose. Big soda might be happy to see other products get some of the unwanted attention directed at them alone for so long.

Let’s be clear. Cutting added sugar is not the magic answer to all our dietary woes.

But many people want to know how much added sugar is in the food they buy. In our own research, we found that most consumers think the new label will be helpful.

By stalling, food companies make themselves look guilty. It looks like they have something to hide. And some of them do. It’s time to come clean and move on.

Click here to read more in Food Navigator USA and here to read more in Food Dive. For a brief history of Nutrition Labeling, click here.

Slow Motion, photograph © Eric Wüstenhagen / flickr

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April 8, 2017