(Hartford, CT) –U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3) released a joint letter to the FDA seeking stronger upgrades to proposed new nutrition labels pursuant to the Agency’s request for comments. They call on the FDA to establish a standardized front-of-package labeling system to help consumers more easily make informed food decisions, and urge the FDA to commit to also redesigning the ingredients label. Further, they also call on the FDA to establish a daily value for added sugars; establish definitions for terms such as whole wheat, natural, and healthy; require the disclosure of the total amount of caffeine; and require the disclosure of artificial colors and sweeteners on the front-of-package.
Earlier this year, the FDA proposed new Nutrition Facts labeling regulations that would update serving size requirements, revise daily recommended nutrient values, and refine the label design to make key information more prominent, among other changes.
“After 20 years, I welcome the FDA’s desire to revisit and revamp its food labeling regulations. While the existing proposal is a strong step in the right direction, reflecting new understanding of nutritional science, the FDA has remained silent on key components,” Blumenthal said. “Skyrocketing rates of obesity and diet-related diseases are the most alarming public threat facing our nation today. Addressing this epidemic starts with the choices we make in the supermarket. Big food companies have spent billions of dollars making their products sweeter, saltier and fattier, distorting the American diet toward calorie-dense, nutrient poor foods. Consumers need truthful information about the products in their shopping carts, and it is time for companies to stop hiding the ball about what they are selling.”
“Transparency is crucial for parents trying to make smart choices for their families,” DeLauro said. “Consumers want a more accurate representation of sugar, caffeine, and artificial colors and sweeteners. They seek out this information and are more interested in it than ever before. And that information needs to be presented in a clear and consistent manner, like front-of-package labeling that will make it easier to make the right decisions for themselves and their children. These common-sense updates are long overdue and the FDA needs to finalize them as quickly as possible.”
Blumenthal and DeLauro introduced last year the Food Labeling Modernization Act to overhaul and update food labeling requirements to provide consumers the information they need to evaluate products and make healthy choices.
Nutrition information, ingredient lists, and health and nutrient-content claims on food labels can play an important role in the battle against obesity and diet-related disease, which are responsible for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in the United States each year, as well as increased health care costs. These food labeling requirements, however, are in need of a major overhaul, especially since major food labeling provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act have not been updated since 1990. As a result, labels do not provide the information that today’s consumer needs to evaluate and compare products in order to make healthy choices.