F.D.A. gives 2018 compliance date for labeling regulations

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 9 gave Jan. 1, 2018, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations that are issued between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2016. An F.D.A. proposed rule to make changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel potentially may become a final rule during that two-year time period, but the rule would not automatically have a Jan. 1, 2018, compliance date.

“If any food labeling regulation involves special circumstances that justify a compliance date other than Jan. 1, 2018, we will determine for that regulation an appropriate compliance date, which will be specified when the final regulation is published,” the F.D.A. said in a Federal Register notice that is yet to be published.

The F.D.A. in the March 3, 2014, Federal Register published its proposed rule to make changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel. A unified regulatory agenda recently came out and targeted March 2016 for the final Nutrition Facts Panel rule, said Lee Sanders, senior vice-president, Government Relations & Public Affairs, for the American Bakers Association, Washington.

“That would give industry less than two years to comply,” she said. “A.B.A. has previously commented to F.D.A. that two years would not be sufficient time for bakers to reformat and change all of their labels and that five years would be a more reasonable timeline. Many other groups in the food industry had also requested a 4-5 year implementation timeframe. A.B.A. will be meeting with F.D.A. on Dec. 16, (2014), and this will be a topic of discussion.”

To minimize the economic impact of label changes, the F.D.A. periodically announces uniform compliance dates for new food labeling requirements. For example, on Nov. 28, 2012, the F.D.A. established Jan. 1, 2016, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations issued between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2014.
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