The original compliance date was July 26, 2018, for manufacturers with more than $10 million in annual sales and July 26, 2019, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales. The agency did not specify new dates, but said they would provide details in a Federal Register Notice at some point in the future.
The FDA said they were extending the deadlines based on feedback from industry and consumer groups, following which they “determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA.” The agency noted that the goal of the extension is to “give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace.”
The announcement generated mostly positive feedback from the industry. Pamela Bailey of the Grocery Manufacturers Association called the delay a “common-sense decision.” Several commenters, like Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted that the new labels would be confusing to consumers.
However, not all feedback was positive. Jim O’Hara of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the delay would cause even more confusion since some companies would go ahead with the new labels, meaning there would be multiple versions of nutrition labels on the shelves. Mars, for example, is still planning to meet the initial deadline.
This is just the latest in a series of final rule deadlines the Trump administration has delayed, in the food industry and beyond. Stay tuned — it probably won’t be the last.