Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Time to chew on proposed food nutrition label changes: How to comment

If people are hungry to be heard about food labels, now's the time.
By Tuesday afternoon, 42 people bit at the opportunity to post official online comments about the Food and Drug Administration's proposed update for Nutrition Facts labels for packaged foods, the first major change in 20 years; 11 commented about proposed changes to serving sizes.

Proposed nutrition label
One commenter called for labeling genetically modified foods; another demanded plainer language.

The official comment period opened Monday and continues until June 2.

Much was written in the past week about the proposed changes, which, the FDA says, "reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The proposed label also would replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with how much people really eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes."

The LA Times, in an editorial that drew only four online comments, called the proposal a "mixed bag," and warned, "Once labels say that 20 ounces of soda is a single serving, consumers might start thinking of that as a standard, reasonable size. They shouldn't."

First lady Michelle Obama, announcing the proposed changes, said, "Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family. So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
Many stories didn't have instructions for readers on how to comment because the official comment period wasn't open when the stories were published. It is now.

If you want to be heard, the FDA says:

For comments to be considered, they must be submitted to regulations.gov or sent by mail to the address below.

The docket for the proposed rule will open Monday, and you can enter comments by going to www.regulations.gov and entering in the “key word” box the docket numbers below:

To comment on the Nutrition Facts label: FDA-2012-N-1210

To comment on the changes to the serving sizes: FDA-2004-N-0258

To comment by mail, send written comments to Division of Dockets Management, Food and Drug Administration, Room 1061, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852. Make sure that the docket number is written at the top of each page of your comment.


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