Michelle Obama reveals updated Nutrition Facts label amid industry controversy
- In a move that's taken more than 20 years, the Nutrition Facts label overhaul is finally being announced, Politico reported. First Lady Michelle Obama revealed the new label Friday at the Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington. Two years ago, the FDA first suggested the changes.
- The labels will include added sugar information and recommendations for the first time, going into effect in two years. They will also include updated serving size and calorie information. This will cost about $2 billion across the industry.
- For food companies that make less than $10 million in annual sales, there's a three-year grace period.
The official move was expected, and Politico reported the move might come this week in time for the Partnership for a Healthier America summit. Still, such a large change will profoundly affect the food and beverage industry. In January, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans stated no more than 10% of daily calories should come from added sugars, ahead of this official change.
Companies like Mars and Nestle have backed the updates, while a sugar industry fight is anticipated. Both Mars and Nestle also recently announced commitments to support FDA's voluntary targets and further reduce sodium in their portfolios.
In a recent FDA survey, half of the adults surveyed said they check the Nutrition Facts label when buying food or beverages always or most of the time. With all the attention this new label will bring, it's likely consumers will pay more attention. This could spur further discussion about what's in food — like the already contentious GMO labeling debate — leading to more industry scrutiny.
In fact, at a recent Grocery Manufacturers Association event, Joseph Levitt, partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP, said this was a key piece missing from the Obama administration's food legacy. "I think notably absent from the legacy list is food biotechnology," Levitt said. "The strongest statement we saw [Tuesday] was that FDA would educate the public about the safety of food biotechnology. But that's pretty soft," he added.
It's safe to say, though, the current Nutrition Facts overhaul is a substantial move for Michelle Obama's work in the White House, with industry reverberations for years to come.