Natural Foods Merchandiser

FDA Seeks Comment on Nutrition Labeling

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it was seeking comment on two proposed changes to the nutrition label on prepackaged foods.

"We're seeking comments on how to give calories more emphasis on the label and how consumers use that information," said Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements. Schneeman said the office is considering several possible scenarios, such as whether calories should be displayed in a more prominent way; whether the part of the label that refers to calories from fat should be eliminated; and whether it would be useful to have a percent daily value for calories.

In addition, the agency is seeking input on whether the serving size portion of the nutrition label should reflect the nutrition information for the entire package, "particularly for those foods that can be reasonably consumed during one eating occasion," Schneeman said. The current formulas for determining serving size were developed based on data from 1977-'78 and 1987-'88. "We're asking whether there are other databases we should be using, [and] we're asking about changes in what is customarily consumed."

The proposed changes are the result of recommendations from the FDA's Obesity Working Group, which last year issued a report titled "Calories Count."

The Advanced Notices of Proposed Rule Making are on display on the Federal Register and will be formally published this week. The FDA will solicit comments for 75 days. To view the dockets, go to Food Labeling - Prominence of Calories or Food Labeling - Serving Sizes. To submit comments on either ANPRM, e-mail [email protected] or mail the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, and reference the docket number.

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