FDA working on trans-fat labeling

New trans-fat labeling requirements must provide information easily understood by consumers, be scientifically accurate and not mislead consumers about the food’s nutrient content, the Grocery Manufacturers of America told FDA in its comments about proposed new regulations.

FDA has proposed limits on trans fat for some existing nutrient content claims and also a definition for a new “trans-fat-free” claim.

The Snack Food Assn. suggested several modifications to the FDA proposal, including allowing the statement “not a significant source of trans-fat” on a food product containing 3 g or less of saturated fat and less than ½ g per serving of trans. SFA supports the agency’s proposed requirement that trans fat and saturated fat be combined in the Nutrition Fact Panel, but suggested that companies be given the option to voluntarily disclose in an asterisk line at the bottom of the panel both the amount of saturated fat and the amount of trans fat. If only the amount of trans fat is listed in the asterisk line, says SFA, consumers may think this is in addition to the total listed in the saturated fat line. In addition, SFA requested that the daily reference value (DRV) for saturated fat be increased to 22 g if trans fat is to be included, rather than 20 g, which FDA arrived at by rounding down.

Both GMA and SFA requested that the complete compliance date be moved up from Jan. 1, 2002, to Jan. 1, 2004, because of the cost and complexity of relabeling so many products. SFA surveyed its members on the economic costs of the proposal and says they would be crippling for smaller members and logistically impossible for the largest members. Individual company costs could be reduced as much as five-fold by extending the deadline for two years, says SFA.

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