Labeling regulation updates

The European Union rules on biotech and food allergen labeling. In the United States, a trans fat label footnote and an FDA labeling law revision are addressed.

The European Union’s newly published requirements for labeling and traceability of foods and feeds containing genetically modified ingredients drew fire from American food producers. NFPA president John R. Cady said they established a serious trade barrier that may keep many U.S. food products out of the European market. European consumers will view the labels as "warning labels" he says, when there is no scientific basis for requiring the labels for the products.

EU on food allergen labeling

The EU Council and the European Parliament have given the green light to tough new rules requiring food manufacturers to list all sub-ingredients of compound ingredients that are classified as potential allergens.

Gone is the old "25 percent rule" that said sub-ingredients need not be listed if they were part of a compound that made up less than 25% of a product. Gone, too, are labeling exemptions that allowed ingredients to be listed only as a category, such as vegetable oil. The source must be indicated for all allergenic ingredients. Alcoholic beverages no longer escape allergen labeling requirements. All ingredients on the list of allergens must be declared, no matter what the product.

No to trans fat footnote

GMA and NFPA oppose an FDA proposal to create a footnote on trans fat to the nutrition label. GMA noted it has long supported quantitative labeling of trans fat in the Nutrition Facts panel, but deemed a mandatory footnote regarding cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat "entirely inappropriate."

According to GMA, consumer research has demonstrated that a footnote leads consumers to overemphasize the importance of that information. Meanwhile, NFPA said the food label is a tool for informing, not educating, consumers. Tools more effective than a label footnote are needed to educate consumers about their need to restrict their intake of trans fat, according to NFPA.

FDA loses lawsuit, revises labeling law

After losing a lawsuit, FDA is removing part of its warning label requirements for dietary supplements and drugs. Unit dose packaging for iron-containing dietary supplements and drug products containing 30 mg or more of iron per dosage unit will no longer be required to bear a warning label.

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