Foundation hosts webinar on FDA front-of-pack labeling


U.S. Food and Drug Administration leaders will participate in a webinar to discuss the agency’s plans for front-of-pack labeling and may provide insights into their plans and timetable. The virtual meeting will be held Nov. 16 and is formally sponsored by the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration, an independent Congressionally-chartered group that recently made headlines with a highly critical report on FDA’s human foods program.

Front-of-pack (FOP) labeling refers to symbols on food packages that provide simplified messages for consumers about the nutritional content of the food. Several countries in Europe and Latin America have mandated the systems, which sometimes take the form of traffic signals. For example, a food high in sodium might have a red symbol while a low-sodium food might have a green symbol.

How eggs would fare under such a system would depend on how it was designed. In general, the existing systems do not single out cholesterol, a recognition of current science on the topic. The nutrients typically labeled for avoidance include sodium, added sugars and saturated fat. In some systems, calorie content is also singled out. Eggs contain little sodium, do not contain added sugars and are not high in saturated fat. Eggs are also a good or excellent source of multiple beneficial nutrients. Some but not all FOP systems include beneficial nutrients as well as avoidance nutrients.

Some food industry groups question whether FDA has the legal authority to mandate FOP labeling, although the agency maintains that it does. Assuming the authority exists, a mandatory system would require rulemaking that would likely take several years. Currently, the FDA is conducting consumer research into various FOP symbols.