Nutrition Facts Labels: Delay, Delay, Delay

New Nutrition Facts Label, FinalAlmost five years. That’s how long most businesses can wait before they tell consumers how much sugar they’re adding to food products. The FDA announced Friday that they were adding another year and a half to the original deadlines announced in 2016 when Michelle Obama unveiled updated Nutrition Facts labels.

Companies with less than $10 million in sales must change their labels by 2021. For bigger companies, the deadline is 2020. But the smaller companies account for most of the business.

The biggest change in the new label is all about sugar. The new label gives consumers information they simply could not get before. It shows how much sugar a manufacturer adds to a product. Other than that, the label has a cleaner design. Total calories are more clearly visible. FDA has also revised requirements about serving sizes and other details of the label.

Consumer Advocates Are Not Amused

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is not happy. In a press release, CEO Peter Lurie said the FDA had “caved in to food industry demands” to deny consumers vital information about the food they eat. The Environmental working group called it “yet another assault in its [the Trump administration’s] war on good food policy.”

Many Companies Already Have the New Labels

The funny thing is that this delay seems rather dumb. Already, you can find the new label on literally thousands of products. Consumers want this information and like the new label. Companies that focus on their customers get it. So they didn’t drag their feet.

Where will you find the foot dragging? In yogurt. Danon, for example, has been launching new products with the old label. Yoplait has done the same. They’re adding new claims to sell more product. But they don’t really want to talk about all the sugar they’re been adding to those products.

Fortunately, they can’t hide forever. With added sugars appearing on everything from soup to snack bars, the foot draggers will stand out. They’ll look like they have something to hide.

And they do. It’s called sugar.

Click here for more from The Hill and here for more from Food Dive.

Waiting, photograph © paolobarzman / flickr

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October 2, 2017