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FDA Proposes Food Label Changes, Seeks Public Comment

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to those "Nutrition Facts" labels for packaged foods that will reflect the latest scientific information.

The purpose behind the proposed changes is to incorporate information that research has revealed about the connection between the food Americans consume and the development of serious chronic diseases, according to the FDA.

But before the new labeling rules can take effect, the public gets 90 days to comment.

The Proposed Changes

According to the FDA, some of the proposed label changes include:

  • Making information about the amount of "added sugars" mandatory on label, so Americans can better manage their intake;
  • Having "dual column" labels that'll reflect "per serving" and "per package" calorie and nutrition information for larger packages;
  • Updating serving size requirements, so they're on par with the amount people actually eat (serving sizes on current labels reflect the amount people should be eating in 1994. The FDA's proposed change would reflect more realistic amounts); and
  • Removing the "Calories From Fat" category, because the FDA says it's more important to show the different types of fat in a product. So "Total Fat", "Saturated Fat", and "Trans Fat" amounts will still be on the label.

These are just some of the proposed changes. To read all of the proposed rules, visit the Federal Register online. That's also where you can submit formal comments about the proposal.

Public Comment and the FDA Rulemaking Process

The first step in the FDA rulemaking process is to issue a proposed rule, explaining the scientific and policy reasons behind it. The next step is to ask for public comment.

After public comments have been received and evaluated, the FDA may decide to revise and issue a new proposed rule or issue a final rule. If the agency is ready to officially enact the final rule, other parts of the federal government may review it before it's published in the Federal Register, according to the FDA.

Once the other government agencies get a chance to review the final rule and no further changes are needed, the new rules get published in the Federal Register with the date upon which the rule becomes effective and enforceable.

The FDA is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until June 2, 2014. Comments can be submitted online, by mail, or in person.

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