CSPI Welcomes Bill to Improve Food Labeling
Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie
CSPI welcomes today’s introduction of the Food Labeling Modernization Act by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ed Markey. The bill, a companion to legislation introduced last week by Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr., and Rosa DeLauro represents a much-needed overhaul of food labeling regulation.
American families are searching for healthier products, but food labels are often full of confusing information. The FLMA provides an important roadmap for the FDA to improve food labels, offering clear, useful information that will make healthy choices easier for all Americans.
The bill’s signature initiative establishes a single, standard, front-of-package nutrition labeling system to clearly distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. The FLMA will also target misleading marketing by requiring companies that make claims about “whole grain” or other desirable ingredients to list the percentages. It will also create clear and consistent standards for popular marketing terms like “natural,” and will provide important information to consumers, including caffeine content and sesame allergen labeling.
In addition, the bill for the first time would require “structure/function” claims like “helps build strong bones” to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, as is currently required for health claims like “prevents osteoporosis.” It also adds a requirement for listing phosphorus, a nutrient that increases serious health risks for people with chronic kidney disease.
As Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recognized recently, food labeling is a public health priority in the battle against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses related to diet and nutrition.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).