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NEW FOOD LABELING WILL COST $3.36 BILLION UNLESS DEADLINE EXTENDED, SAYS NFPA; ADDITIONAL OBJECTIONS CITED

NEW FOOD LABELING WILL COST $3.36 BILLION UNLESS DEADLINE EXTENDED,
 SAYS NFPA; ADDITIONAL OBJECTIONS CITED
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The food industry today said the timetable for the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) will result in excessive costs, amounting to an estimated $3.36 billion, and asked the Food and Drug Administration to extend the effective date to May 1994. NFPA said the extension would ease the economic hardship that would be suffered under the current six-month compliance period. NLEA rules allow for a one-year extension past the six-month deadline in the event of economic hardship to the industry.
 The National Food Processors Association has analyzed data from 55 food corporations representing over $27 billion in business and determined that the proposed six-month compliance period would cost the industry an estimated $3.36 billion, for FDA-regulated products. These conservatively compiled figures more accurately reflect industry costs than the FDA estimate of $1.54 billion, according to NFPA staff scientists and analysts.
 Industry estimates conservatively reflect the costs of full nutrition analyses, additional equipment and technical personnel, preparation work for labels, including artwork, layout, stripping, color separations, and film preparation, as well as the actual reprinting of labels.
 "The request for an extension is not an attempt to stall, it's a reality check," said John Cady, NFPA president. While the industry is ready to begin as soon as final rules are published, Cady added, the time allotted to fulfill nutrition labeling requirements is unrealistic. "It will still be a challenge to meet the demands in 18 months. Economic hardship obviously does exist."
 NFPA noted that the analytical methods required by the FDA to comply with the proposed NLEA are often inadequate or do not exist. According to Dr. Lester Crawford, NFPA executive vice president of scientific affairs, "Processors will not know which nutrients to analyze for or what tests to run until FDA publishes final rules." Methods do not exist for some nutrients such as "complex carbohydrates" and sugars, as proposed.
 NFPA supports the NLEA's purpose of providing consumers with useful labeling information, and commends the industry for undertaking this effort. However, NFPA opposes the following: the mandatory "calories from fat" as potentially confusing to consumers (total calories already provided); the mandatory declaration of "sugars" (requests revised definition to include only mono- and disaccharides, as analytical methods exist for those two only); and the mandatory declaration of "nutrient profile" as potentially confusing and requiring sufficient label space on small packages.
 "It is essential that the Bush administration live up to the president's de-regulatory commitment in the State of the Union address and give careful scrutiny to the NLEA rules and revise them to give needed information to consumers with the least economic hardship to the industry," added Juanita Dugagan, NFPA senior vice president, government affairs.
 NFPA believes consumers have a right to know and understand food labeling, and has been working toward this end since early 1990 on a food label education project. This program will provide information to professionals on using new labels as a key to a sound diet. Educational materials, reviewed by numerous organizations, will be ready for distribution shortly after final rules are published.
 NFPA has worked with the USDA to implement companion labeling regulations, and commends the high degree of harmony that has been evidenced between the agencies. However, NFPA requests that the USDA recognize the economic hardship that would be unfairly imposed if the agency chooses to pursue a parallel timeframe for compliance, which it is not required to do.
 Detailed comments will be submitted to the FDA and USDA on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
 NFPA is the scientific voice of the food industry. Its three research laboratories serve NFPA's 500 member companies, which produce the nation's processed-packaged fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood, juices and drinks, and specialty products.
 -0- 2/21/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Lester Crawford of the National Food Processors Association, 202-639-5958/ CO: National Food Processors Association ST: District of Columbia IN: FOD SU:


TW -- DC018 -- 1484 02/21/92 15:40 EST
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Date:Feb 21, 1992
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