FDA considers requests to keep, change Nutrition Facts Label schedule
April 11, 2017
The Food and Drug Administration is considering requests to maintain the schedule for revamping the Nutrition Facts Label and requests to slow down its implementation and coordinate it with the mandatory disclosure of genetically modified ingredients, a key FDA civil servant said April 11.
In the question-and-answer period, after a speech to the Consumer Federation of America National Food Policy Conference, Susan Mayne, the director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said FDA has had requests to both extend and to not extend the deadline, currently set for July 26, 2018.
"We are hearing the requests. We will consider them," Mayne said.
Asked about proposals to merge the mandatory disclosure of genetically modified ingredients and the Nutrition Facts Label to reduce companies' expense, Mayne said that FDA is also "well aware" of that issue.
The Agriculture Department is in charge of the GMO mandatory disclosure program. Mayne said she does not know if FDA and USDA have ever worked together on a single label, but she said, "We talk to USDA on a very regular basis."
In other remarks, Mayne said that many of FDA's regulations are designed to build consumer confidence in certain foods.
One is FDA's regulation on inorganic arsenic in rice, which is focused on infant cereal.
A program of publishing recommendations on what fish pregnant women should choose in order to avoid mercury and other contaminants is intended make pregnant women "more confident" about following doctors' orders to eat more fish, she said.
The produce rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act is also intended to build consumer confidence about eating produce, she added.
On budget issues, Mayne said resources for implementing FSMA are "critical" and noted that a lot of the produce money goes directly to the states that carry out the inspection programs.
On FDA's program to encourage sodium reduction, Mayne said that FDA has undertaken that initiative because Americans get most of their sodium from processed and restaurant food and that sodium use among Americans is too high.
In the public comments FDA has received on sodium reduction, the agency is "learning about the technical role that sodium plays in food," Mayne said.