US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin, Longtime Senate Champion for Healthy Eating, Praises FDA Proposal to Update Food and Beverage Nutrition Labels

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Authored the Menu Labeling Provisions in the Affordable Care Act; Harkin Has Long Advocated for Improved Nutrition Labeling

Thursday, February 27, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today praised new proposed rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve the nutrition facts panel that is displayed on food and beverage labels. The new labeling proposal will more accurately reflect typical serving sizes, and will include other valuable changes, including a listing of added sugars and reducing the daily value for sodium.  

“Prevention and wellness initiatives are at the heart of our efforts to improve public health and all Americans deserve access to clear, evidence-based information to help them make healthy decisions for themselves and their families,” Harkin said. “The FDA has put forward a bold and much-needed proposal to update nutrition labels to accurately reflect the latest nutrition science and realistic serving sizes. Today’s announcement constitutes a major step forward in the effort to ensure access to healthy, nutritious food, and I am hopeful that the FDA will soon release pending regulations of menu labeling at chain restaurants to complement the proposal issued today.

“I look forward to FDA’s final proposal and to continuing to work closely with the White House, FDA, and other federal agencies on a shared mission to support Americans in their efforts to make informed choices about their health and nutrition.”

Harkin has been a champion of healthy eating initiatives throughout his career, including authoring the menu labeling provisions in the Affordable Care Act and creating the school fruit and vegetable pilot program. Last year, he reintroduced the HELP America Act, which among other provisions, calls for improved nutrition labeling and directs the FDA to develop two-year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods. In 2008, Harkin commissioned a study from the IOM—released in 2010—that looked at common-sense strategies for reducing dangerously high sodium levels in processed foods.

Prior to his HELP chairmanship, Harkin was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.  He was also the author of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, which was enacted into law as part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

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