Democrats introduce bill to reform food labeling standards
As food labeling continues to be a contentious issue, four Democratic members of Congress proposed a bill last week that seeks to modernize the information on food packages which the senators say is currently misleading and confusing for consumers.
Introduced by US Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), with US Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 addresses front-of-package labeling, misleading health claims and requires updates to the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list.
“The measure is a commonsense solution to grocery store shelves that are filled with products labeled with confusing or deceptive dietary information,” Blumenthal says. “The Food Labeling Modernization Act mandates critically important information for consumers by updating laws that have been unchanged since the 1990s. Americans deserve to know what is in the food they eat. By empowering consumers with accurate, truthful, and concise information, this legislation will enable them to make healthier choices, and outsmart deceptive pitches and promotions.”
The bill’s signature initiative will direct the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to establish a single, standard front of package nutrition labeling system in a timely manner for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling.
In addition, the legislation will require new guidelines for the use of the words “healthy” or “made with whole grain.” The bill also requires the percent daily values for calories and sugar, as well as the amount of added sugar, be listed on the Nutrition Facts label. The bill also adds trans fats to the list of fats for which FDA can disqualify cholesterol claims, changing “fat or saturated fat,” to “fat, saturated fat, or trans fats.” It specifies that trans-fat free claims cannot be made unless the food contains less than one gram of saturated fat and anything above that must be disclosed.
A breakdown of the bill can be found here.