Statement of CSPI special projects director Jim O’Hara

The Food and Drug Administration today issued guidance to industry on dietary fibers, added sugars, and serving sizes that should cause the agency to re-think its proposed delay of the upgraded Nutrition Facts label. The FDA had proposed delaying the new label—with its line for added sugars, bolder presentation of calories, and more-realistic serving sizes—from July 2018 to January 2020 for large companies and from July 2019 to January 2021 for smaller companies. That proposed delay was premised on the agency’s own tardiness in providing the food industry with these guidance documents.

With today’s release of the guidance, a July 2019 compliance date for all companies for the updated Nutrition Facts label is both realistic and achievable. In fact, more than 15,000 of the upgraded labels are already on grocery store shelves. Label Insight, a company that tracks food labeling, has found what it calls an “exponential” increase in use of the updated labels. Consumers deserve the updated labels sooner rather than later. Although we have concerns about some elements of the guidance documents released today, they are largely reasonable and scientifically sound.