The White House wants to update food labels, but some food makers aren't buying it

Developing a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system will require changes that some in the food industry are wary about for CPG makers.
FDA food labeling
The FDA proposes updated definition of 'healthy' claim on food packages. Photograph: Shutterstock

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on Wednesday presented a national strategy that not only included a goal of ending hunger by 2030, but pushed for a standardized, front-of-package (FOP) food labeling system, which has some in the food industry concerned about an increase of costs for CPG makers.  

On the heels of that historic conference, the first gathering of its kind in 50 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week proposed updated criteria for when foods can be labeled with the nutrient content claim "healthy" on their packaging.

But developing a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system will require changes that some in the food industry are wary about.

The Consumer Brands Association (CBA), the Arlington, Va.-based CPG trade group, this week issued a statement from Sarah Gallo, vice president of product policy at CBA, regarding the proposed labeling system.

"As the administration proceeds, we urge against implementing policies that may inadvertently hurt consumers, especially in the volatile economic environment that has caused a spike in the cost to manufacture grocery products," Gallo said. "Focusing on incentive-based and voluntary initiatives, such as voluntary interpretive front-of-pack labeling schemes that are fully backed by extensive research, has the potential to positively affect our shared hunger, nutrition and health policy goals."

The FDA on Thursday outlined its agenda towards developing the FOP label, which would not eliminate the nutrition facts found on the side or back of products, but rather be used as a quicker way to identify healthy foods.

According to the FDA, to be labeled as "healthy," the products would need to:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

To help identify these food packaging items, the development of a symbol that manufacturers could use to show that their product meets the "healthy" claim criteria is underway, the FDA said in a statement.



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