For many in the food, beverage, and dietary supplements industries, the recent action by the Trump Administration to make pending rulings inactive has created waves of uncertainty. These swift measures, along with the thought of what else is at stake, has prompted AIB to take a closer look at how these changes affect our food industry.
“It’s hard to predict what the Trump Administration will do. On the surface, less regulation seems desirable but leaving discrepancies between regulated information under different agencies will cause confusion for consumers.” said Elaine Meloan, Manager of Food Labeling Services at AIB International.
What IS being impacted are the proposed regulations put out last Fall by USDA for changes to USDA nutrition panels and RACC amounts. Each year the government publishes a regulatory agenda of priority actions for the year. The Administration’s agenda titled, “Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions”, illustrates their emphasis on rolling back rulemaking. This year they marked some activities as inactive, however, this doesn’t directly impact the compliance date delay for FDA nutrition changes. The “2017 Inactive Actions List” includes:
- FDA’s Food Standards: General Principles and Food Standards Modernization
- FDA’s Label Requirement for Food That Has Been Refused Admission Into the United States
- A host of rules impacting the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services programs (e.g., NSLP, SBP, SMP, WIC, SNAP, FFVP)
Meloan went on to add, “Keep in mind that USDA will not object to products they regulate carrying the new FDA panel, however, it will not be a requirement for USDA foods until they are able to finish the rule making process.”
“Be discerning when reading news stories about regulations for nutrition changes being placed on the inactive list,” Meloan said. “Right now, this refers to the USDA proposed regulation.”
At this point in time, the compliance date has been extended to January 1, 2020 for companies that have $10 million or more in annual food sales and January 1, 2021 for companies that have less than $10 million in annual food sales. ”No new compliance date has been published in the Federal Register. FDA is completing its work on the revised Nutrition Facts Label (NFL), including completing its review of fiber petitions seeking approval under the new definition of dietary fiber, issuing final guidance documents (including for dietary fiber), and providing sufficient time for food manufacturers to comply with the final requirements. This translates to nothing new to report on dietary fiber or added sugars at this time.
AIB continues to advise our clients to continue the process of updating their food nutrition labels. The delay is a direct result of actions from the Trump Administration, but it is unknown how long the wait could be. A food manufacturer could be at risk when the final date is set so continue with the updating process now.