Washington, D.C.—The American Herbal Products Association has joined 16 other trade associations in aletter to FDA, requesting more time for small businesses to understand and comply with new nutrition labeling regulations, according to a press release.

On May 27, 2016, FDA issued a final rule updating food and supplement labeling laws. It has a wide range of effects, including changes to the format of the supplement facts panel and revisions to the Daily Reference Values of many nutrients.

FDA haspreviously announcedthat companies with $10 million or more in annual sales will receive additional time to make these changes, pushing back the original compliance date of January 1, 2020. However, the press release explains, FDA has said nothing about enforcement discretion for smaller companies, which have a compliance date of January 1, 2021.

The letter—sent by the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA)—requests that small businesses be given the same enforcement discretion, moving the compliance date to January 1, 2022.
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The letter states “The food industry remains wholly committed to implementing the new nutrition labeling rules,” but explains: “As we have done throughout the rulemaking process, including in our 2019 letter outlining why additional time for compliance was needed…we ask that this labeling initiative be implemented in a way that takes into consideration the time and complexity involved in making changes to product labels, in particular, for smaller companies. This need is made more urgent due to the challenges of adaptation to the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Many of FBIA’s smaller member companies, the letter explains, will have a majority of product labels updated to the new format, but likely will not be able to change over 100% of labels in time. FBIA notes that the difficulties faced are in line with those predicted in FBIA’s previous letter, although they have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

The letter concludes: “FBIA members ask the agency to provide consistent flexibility in its enforcement of the new nutrition labeling rules. This can be accomplished by explicitly clarifying and communicating that the one-year enforcement discretion period to manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales, begins with the January 1, 2021 compliance date.”