WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The Food and Drug Administration has proposed revamping federal food-labeling regulations to ensure the accuracy of net-weight declarations on processed foods and, in the process, improve nutritional information as well.
Unlike the FDA's previous effort to rewrite the U.S. net-weight regulations in 1980, the industry generally supports this latest initiative.
The agency's plan is technical in nature, setting out accepted methods for ensuring that food labels accurately reflect the net weight of food enclosed in cans, pouches, cartons, containers or boxes.
But in a move welcomed by the food industry, the FDA in essence pre-empts efforts by some states to set their own food-weight standards -- potentially an onerous burden on manufacturers.
The FDA also proposed that for food products packed in a liquid or broth, only the food's drained weight can be listed on labels and that for food packed in a pressurized container, the label must accurately reflect the food's weight after the gas is expelled.
"In terms of its uniformity provisions, the [proposal] gets four thumbs up," said Regina Hildwine, director of technology regulatory affairs at the National Food Processors Association here. Specifically, Hildwine said there is concern within the industry today that several states have their own food net-weight regulations, which could make it more costly for national or regional firms to sell their products.
Hildwine added that the FDA proposal, if enacted, would make it easier for consumers to understand nutrition labels, since the listings for fat, carbohydrates, salt, proteins, vitamins and minerals would be based only on the drained weight of products.
She added that the association intends to "offer suggestions to correct technical problems" with the proposal by the June 2 deadline for comments.
This reaction is far different from that of the association and other food industry groups to the FDA's 1980 plan to revise the U.S. net-weight food regulations.
At that time, the agency proposed lengthy protocols to be used during food preparation and afterward in testing, to guarantee the label's net-weight statements were accurate. That proposal was never approved.
George Green, the Food Marketing Institute's vice president and assistant general counsel here, declined to comment on the latest initiative, except to say the FMI would submit comments on the FDA proposal by the deadline.