Biden Administration Plans Overhaul of Nutrition Labeling

New guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will focus on overall dietary patterns instead of specific macro and micronutrients.
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By Paolo DeAndreis
Oct. 6, 2022 15:55 UTC

Access to healthy food and food secu­rity in the United States are the goals of the White House’s new national hunger, nutri­tion and health strat­egy.

President Joe Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion said it would push for a series of leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive actions through coop­er­a­tion with national and local insti­tu­tions, the food indus­try, schools and other stake­hold­ers.

These include improv­ing food access and qual­ity, pro­mot­ing phys­i­cal activ­ity and research­ing food secu­rity and nutri­tion issues. A new approach to food label­ing is also a cru­cial part of the ini­tia­tive.

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We are mobi­liz­ing the will to meet a bold goal: to end hunger in America and increase healthy eat­ing and phys­i­cal activ­ity by 2030, so fewer Americans expe­ri­ence diet-related dis­eases,” Biden said dur­ing a speech intro­duc­ing the new plan.

One of the pil­lars of the new strat­egy is increas­ing con­sumer aware­ness about the food they buy to pro­mote healthy choices. To this end, cur­rent food label­ing will be updated with the intro­duc­tion of a front-of-pack label­ing (FOPL) sys­tem.

According to the new plan, the FOPL would fos­ter a health­ier approach to food and prompt the indus­try to improve the health of its food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will develop the label­ing sys­tem, instruct­ing the indus­try on using the Dietary Guidelines Statements on food labels.

To this end, the FDA pro­posed a rule update for the healthy” claim on food prod­ucts which was intro­duced in 1994 and is now con­sid­ered out­dated.

The cur­rent reg­u­la­tion spec­i­fies lim­its on con­tents such as fat, sodium and cho­les­terol and sets min­i­mum amounts of nutri­ents such as vit­a­mins A and C, cal­cium, iron, pro­tein and dietary fiber. Approximately 5 per­cent of all pack­aged food cur­rently is labeled healthy.”

The FDA said it would allow the use of the health claim for foods that help con­sumers fol­low a healthy dietary pat­tern accord­ing to cur­rent nutri­tion sci­ence. The agency cited olive oil as an exam­ple of a food that was pre­vi­ously excluded but now may receive the healthy” claim.

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The FDA wrote that the use of olive oil as a replace­ment for more com­mon sat­u­rated fats is sup­ported by cur­rent nutri­tion sci­ence and empha­sized by fed­eral dietary guid­ance… as part of a healthy dietary pat­tern.”

Under the cur­rent regime, olive oil can­not bear the healthy” claim because it does not con­tain 10 per­cent of the daily value of required nutri­ents.

Thus, the exist­ing healthy’ claim has become incon­sis­tent with the long­stand­ing pur­pose of this type of implied claim to indi­cate that the nutri­ent lev­els in a food may help con­sumers main­tain healthy dietary prac­tices,” the FDA said.

The core of the new pro­posed frame­work uses a food group-based approach which, the FDA said, is based on the under­stand­ing that each food group con­tributes an array of impor­tant nutri­ents to the diet.”

Therefore, the FDA added, the new healthy cri­te­ria would empha­size healthy dietary pat­terns by requir­ing food prod­ucts” to be labeled healthy” when they con­tain a cer­tain amount of food from at least one of the food groups or sub­groups rec­om­mended by the Dietary Guidelines, 2020 to 2025.”

Once enacted, the new reg­u­la­tion would limit added sug­ars, sat­u­rated fats and sodium. It would also include cer­tain record­keep­ing require­ments for foods bear­ing the claim where com­pli­ance can­not be ver­i­fied through infor­ma­tion on the prod­uct label.”

Comments on the new FDA pro­posed reg­u­la­tion update will be accepted until December 28, 2022.


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