According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the organic food market is experiencing double-digit growth in recent years. Despite the list of reasons that bump up the cost of organic foods, consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium. Unfortunately for consumers, the weak, unclear, and sometimes non-existent labeling regulations imposed on organic products means that they may not be getting what they think they are paying for.
On May 20, 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new nutrition facts label for packaged foods, the first significant makeover in twenty years. The new label reflects new scientific information regarding our diets; such as the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. This new label comes after three years of negotiations and proposed improvements between the FDA, scientists, and lobbying groups. Those in favor of the changes have pointed out that the old nutrition fact labels had no information to help consumers determine if they were complying with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations and that the labels did not reflect the necessary nutrients per day. These changes affect manufacturers as well as consumers. Manufacturers are not only worried about having to reformulate their foods, but also having to reconsider their ability to make certain nutrient content claims in advertisements and on packaging. Companies will also have to consider additional costs associated with packaging design, development of new artwork, regulatory consultation and review to ensure label compliance, reconsideration of inconsistent advertising, and human costs associated with potential new operating procedures and training to ensure compliance with the new regulations. In response to complaints from manufacturers, consumer advocates are reminding the White House Administration to remember that the FDA’s mission is protect the health of the American people not the bottom line of manufacturers.