On August 4, 2021, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Ed Markey; and Democratic Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. and Rosa DeLauro introduced the Food Labeling Modernization Act (“FLMA”) in both houses of Congress. Versions of this bill were introduced in 2015 and 2018, but were unsuccessful.
The press release announcing the new legislation touted it as “an effort to help consumers select healthy products.” The legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to establish a single, standard front-of-package nutrition labeling system in a timely manner for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling.
The bill directs the FDA to promulgate regulations that:
- Create a standardized symbol that displays calorie information in relation to serving size, as well as information on saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars and any other nutrients “strongly associated with public health concerns;”
- Create a system of warning symbols for foods high in saturated or trans fats, sodium, added sugars, and any other nutrients that should be limited or discouraged, along with a stop-light, points, star or other signaling system to rank foods according to their overall health value; and
- Require that the information appear on all products that bear a nutrition label, on the principal display panel (PDP), in a prominent design that contrasts with the packaging and be easily legible.
The bill will also strengthen current law to target trends in marketing that confuse consumers attempting to compare food products and would require new guidelines for the use of the word “healthy.”