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NFPA FILES COMMENTS ON FDA, USDA LABELING PROPOSALS

 NFPA FILES COMMENTS ON FDA, USDA LABELING PROPOSALS
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Food Processors


Association filed 375 pages of comments today on proposed mandatory nutrition labeling rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 "Our comments request extension of the effective date of FDA's regulations and document the extreme hardship and expense that meeting the six-month deadline set by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act would cause," said NFPA President John R. Cady. He noted that NLEA allows FDA to grant up to one additional year to implement new labeling. "We must take the time to do this right, because consumers will ultimately bear the cost of the changeover," he added.
 Included in NFPA's comments were results of a survey showing that relabeling by the current deadline of May 8, 1993, would cost food companies $3.36 billion just for products regulated by FDA, double the agency's estimate.
 NFPA said nearly 150 billion new packages and labels would need to be printed to comply. "We simply don't have the laboratory capacity to do all the analytical work, nor the printing capacity to prepare that many labels in six months time," Cady said.
 In other comments filed today, NFPA called upon FDA to:
 -- Retain the current food label format, which consumer testing has shown to be effective, since the NLEA does not require any change.
 -- Drop consideration of a proposed requirement that labels declare when any product contains a processed ingredient. NFPA said the fact that a product may contain previously processed ingredients is of no health or scientific significance.
 -- While supporting declaration of total juice content, NFPA said FDA should drop a proposal to require declaration of individual juice percentages for blended juice products because it is unnecessary and potentially confusing to consumers.
 -- Eliminate from the labeling requirements calories from fat, complex carbohydrates, fibers and sugars because they are of no health significance and would be confusing to consumers. Also, NFPA pointed out that no analytical method exists to quantify complex carbohydrates and sugar content of food as proposed by FDA. NFPA said FDA should allow voluntary use of its proposed "nutrition profile" rather than make it mandatory.
 -- Drop an interim rule on cholesterol claims because it is inconsistent with a 1990 FDA Tentative Final Rule on cholesterol descriptors and with the NLEA proposed rulemaking on descriptors.
 -- Drop a proposal to require that the serving size for certain canned vegetables be based on drained weight rather than the net weight of the product, as has been common practice.
 NFPA echoed many of the same points in comments to USDA, and urged the agency to take economic hardship into account and give meat and poultry processors ample time to come into compliance.
 INFORMATION PROPOSED FOR NEW FOOD LABELS
 (Mandatory Declarations Shown with (A))
 Compiled by the National Food Processors Association
 Nutrition Information Per Serving
 Serving Size (A)
 Servings per container (A)
 Calories (A)
 Calories from total fat (A)
 Calories from saturated fat
 Calories from unsaturated fat
 Calories from total carbohydrate
 Calories from protein
 Total fat (A)
 Saturated fat (A)
 Unsaturated fatty acid
 Polyunsaturated fat
 Monounsaturated fat
 Cholesterol (A)
 Total Carbohydrate (A)
 Complex carbohydrate (A)
 Sugars (A)
 Sugar alcohol
 Dietary Fiber (A)
 Soluble fiber
 Insoluble fiber
 Protein (grams) (A)
 Protein (percent of daily value)
 Sodium (A)
 Potassium
 "Not a significant source of ----------" (A) (listing "calories from total fat," "saturated fat," "cholesterol," "complex carbohydrate," "sugars," "dietary fiber," and/or "protein" as appropriate)
 Percent of Daily Value
 Vitamin A (A)
 Vitamin C (A)
 Calcium (A)
 Iron (A)
 "Not a significant source of ----------" (listing the vitamins or minerals omitted)
 Nutrition Labeling Proposals
 The National Food Processors Association's Technical Regulatory Affairs Division has compiled the following proposed, pending and existing nutrition labeling proposals that should be reviewed during the 90-day moratorium on regulations.
 Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
 I. New Rulemakings
 -- FDA Nutrition Label Format Proposal (expected Spring 1992) -- NLEA does not mandate FDA change current format. Initial FDA consumer testing showed current format performance as least as well as any of four other formats as means of conveying nutrient information to consumers. However, the agency has continued to test additional formats and solicited industry-sponsored testing to provide broader data base. FDA plans to propose new format for comment before industry data is available.
 -- Labeling of "Remanufactured" Ingredients -- FDA has raised the possibility of a regulation to require that food products declare on the principal display panel that one or more of the ingredients have been previously processed. There is no factual data, legal authority or precedent that would tend to support such a requirement. No evidence exists that consumers would be misled if manufacturers did not identify "remanufactured" ingredients on the label.
 II. Current Rulemakings
 -- Percent Juice Labeling -- The NLEA requires that FDA establish regulations concerning declaration of the total juice content for all fruit or vegetable juice beverages. In the proposal the agency has also proposed to require the declaration of individual juice percentages for multiple juice beverages. This requirement should be deleted from any final rule on percent juice labeling as unnecessary and potentially confusing to consumers.
 -- Nutrition Labeling Proposals -- The NLEA lists 13 different nutrients which FDA must consider for inclusion in mandatory nutrition labeling format. The agency is provided the discretion to eliminate any of these if it is determined that such declaration is not necessary. There are four items which fall into this category (calories from fat, complex carbohydrates, sugars and the Daily Reference Value Table).
 -- Nutrient Density -- The FDA proposals on nutrition labeling propose to establish a nutrient density requirement in addition to the serving size as a means of restricting the use of certain descriptive terms (e.g., "low cholesterol"). This would disadvantage certain dehydrated or concentrated products (e.g., soups) when compared to their single strength counterparts and products with small reference serving sizes (cheese, cereal).
 -- Cholesterol Interim Rule -- Proposed by the agency to provide guidance on cholesterol claims until final rules are issued under the NLEA. The document is inconsistent with the FDA'S 1990 tentative final rule on cholesterol descriptors and the NLEA proposed rulemaking on descriptors. As proposed, it would cause every product now bearing a cholesterol claim to be misbranded and subject to regulatory action.
 -- Serving Size Determination -- FDA has proposed to require that the serving size for certain canned vegetables be based on the drained weight of the product rather than the net weight as has been common practice. Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act these products have declared their net contents on the basis of the entire contents of the container. FDA in 1979 published a proposal seeking comments on whether to require Drained Weight/Fill Weight declarations for these products (based on the industry voluntary fill weight program as alternative to drained weight). In December the agency published a notice which dropped this rulemaking. This proposal seems to be a means of getting a drained weight requirement in the "back door" when it cannot be justified as an independent rulemaking.
 -- Complex Carbohydrates and Sugars -- FDA proposes to require that the nutrition label include a quantitative declaration of the complex carbohydrate and sugar content of food. The NFPA does not have an analytical method to enumerate the complex carbohydrate function as proposed by the agency (defined as the sum of dextrins -- saccharine units of 10 or more -- and starches). Also, the agency proposed definition for sugars includes all free mono- and oligosaccharides through four saccharide units and the sugar alcohols (e.g., mannitol, sorbitol).
 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
 Current Rulemakings
 In the absence of a legislative mandate, FSIS must exercise its discretion regarding timing for implementation of its nutrition labeling rules. At a minimum, FSIS must allow the same extensions likely to be provided by FDA. Further, if economic impact data shows that a longer implementation period could further minimize the impact of the rule, then additional time should be provided.
 -0- 2/25/92
 /CONTACT: Roger Coleman of the National Food Processors Association, 202-639-5935/ CO: National Food Processors Association ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


MH-MK -- DC037 -- 2574 02/25/92 17:46 EST
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