Congress introduces legislation to give food labels a much-needed overhaul

The U.S. Capitol Building with a hazy sky behind it

Jose Fontano -

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is celebrating the introduction of a bill to increase transparency and promote healthy choices through food labels. The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023 (FLMA) was introduced today by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the Senate.  

Mandatory front-of-package nutrition labeling is among the many ways this legislation would modernize food labels to keep step with similar health-focused labeling initiatives in other countries, such as Mexico and Canada, according to CSPI. The legislation would require prominent labels on processed foods to help consumers quickly and easily identify foods that are high in sodium, added sugar, or saturated fat—nutrients that are overconsumed and linked to chronic disease. 

The FLMA was first introduced in 2013 and has led to successful bipartisan efforts to improve food labels, including passage of the FASTER Act of 2021, which established sesame as the ninth major allergen required to be disclosed on food labels and whose text originated as part of the FLMA.  

In addition to requiring front-of-package labels, the FLMA of 2023 addresses misleading claims, brings food information online, and requires disclosure of previously undisclosed ingredients. The bill puts an end to the deceptive use of fruit imagery and statements like “Made with whole grain” on products without substantial amounts of fruit and whole grain. It ensures consumers have access to nutrition, ingredient, and allergen information when they are shopping for food online. And it has new requirements for labeling caffeine, phosphorous, and gluten-containing grains, which are currently not clearly labeled on most foods and beverages. 

“The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023 will increase transparency and promote healthy choices through food labels,” said CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie. “Tackling our nation’s enormous burden of diet-related disease will require a whole-of-government approach. With the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023, Congress joins the White House and federal agencies in taking steps to improve the health of our nation’s food supply, and in turn promote the health of our population.” 

Senator Blumenthal, the lead Senate sponsor of the legislation, will be delivering a keynote address at the end of day two of CSPI’s Sugar Reduction Summit at 5:15 this evening.

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