10.16.17

Murray Calls Out FDA Commissioner for Delay of Food Labeling Standards: Pushing Off Implementation Threatens Public Health Efforts & “Your Commitments to Put Families’ Health First”

Despite pressing need for families to access clear nutritional information, FDA continues to “unreasonably postpone” food labeling requirements

 

In new letter, Murray urges FDA Commissioner Gottlieb to comply with timeline & protections as intended; “Cease FDA’s recent practice of pushing off compliance for key public health protections”

 

Murray to Gottlieb: “This would be a step backward for consumers seeking to make informed dietary choices”

 

(Washington, D.C.) — Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today urged Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to reverse this month’s decision delaying implementation of the updated “Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label” rule, which would require that new food labels be updated to highlight information like calories, sugars, and serving sizes.

 

This is the latest in a series of delays by FDA in implementing crucial nutrition labeling requirements, this time pushing package labeling compliance off to January 2020 for large companies and January 2021 for small companies. Back in May, Commissioner Gottlieb issued a delay of menu labeling requirements just one day before the compliance date was set to go into effect.

 

The length of this potential delay – ranging from 18 to 30 months – threatens to unreasonably postpone access to key nutrition information for families, cause confusion in the marketplace, and further hinder the FDA’s mandate to protect public health,” wrote Senator Murray.While I am pleased the FDA will not suspend or reopen this rule, I am concerned that having different labels on products for an extended period will lead to consumer confusion and undermine the FDA’s public health effort.”

 

The delay on the “Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label” rule is the latest move by the FDA under Commissioner Gottlieb to push off critical public health protections. In the letter, Murray cited FDA’s delay of implementation of key provisions of the tobacco deeming rule as another troubling example of Commissioner Gottlieb’s failure to put families’ health first.

 

“The FDA is charged with protecting the public health, and repeated delays such as these have the opposite effect,” wrote Senator Murray. “I urge you cease the FDA’s recent practice of pushing off compliance for key public health protections.”

 

Full text of letter below and PDF can be found HERE:

 

October 16, 2017

 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Commissioner

Food and Drug Administration

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

Silver Spring, MD 20857

 

 

Dear Dr. Gottlieb:

 

I write to you regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) October 10, 2017 proposed rule which would delay the compliance deadline under the May 27, 2016, final Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label rule. This is the latest in a series of delays by the FDA on critical public health protections. The length of this potential delay – ranging from 18 to 30 months – threatens to unreasonably postpone access to key nutrition information for families, cause confusion in the marketplace, and further hinder the FDA’s mandate to protect public health. FDA should quickly issue guidance to support industry efforts to comply with the final rule, and expedite implementation of the updated Nutrition Facts panel.

 

On May 27, 2016, the FDA published the new final rule on nutrition facts labeling, designed to make it easier for consumers to be better informed regarding the food they buy and eat. These important changes stem from updated scientific information and public health research, including with regards to the link between diet and chronic diseases, following a robust public comment process. The rule also requires that new labels be updated to highlight important information in food products like calories, sugars, and serving sizes.

 

 Under this month’s proposed rule, FDA would delay the date of compliance from July 26, 2018 to January 2020 for large companies and January 2021 for small companies. This would be a step backward for consumers seeking to make informed dietary choices. While I am pleased the FDA will not suspend or reopen this rule, I am concerned that having different labels on products for an extended period will lead to consumer confusion and undermine the FDA’s public health effort.

 

This latest announcement follows a concerning trend of FDA delaying and deprioritizing implementation of critical public health rules. In May, FDA delayed the compliance date for the agency’s Menu Labeling rule by one year – the announcement was made just one day before the compliance date was set to go into effect. In July, FDA announced its intent to delay implementation of key provisions of the tobacco deeming rule, giving e-cigarette and cigar manufacturers—including those manufacturing flavored products that appeal to children—a free pass to stay on the market for years with minimal oversight and restrictions. The FDA is charged with protecting the public health, and repeated delays such as these have the opposite effect.

 

As FDA commissioner, it is your responsibility to protect public health. Repeated delays of public health protections threaten to undermine the critical mission of the agency and your commitments to put families’ health first. I urge you cease the FDA’s recent practice of pushing off compliance for key public health protections.

 

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