WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Suppliers of the nation's food and beverage packaging have scored separate victories against the Food and Drug Administration in their lobbying to use inventory not emblazoned with the new federally mandated nutrition label.
Officials of the can industry brought their case to a federal court, while the paper packaging industry went through Capitol Hill. At issue: Should companies be able to use packaging produced before the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act went into effect May 8? U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled in favor of the Can Manufacturers Institute, delaying enforcement of the FDA labeling law for canned drinks until Aug. 8. This will allow some 319 million cans that don't carry the label -- roughly 2% of the industry's inventory -- to be used, said Trey Mayfield, CMI manager of regulatory affairs.
Although this inventory amounts to a fraction of the cans to be filled with beverages during the peak summer months, it nevertheless is valued at between $9 million and $10 million.
In stating their cases, packaging officials said FDA gave the impression the labeling law referred to the date packages were produced, not filled. Consequently, suppliers generated their customary inventory.
Jack Lewis, vice president of the Paperboard Packaging Council, said most of his industry's packages are in compliance with the labeling laws.
A Senate bill that was expected to be passed last week, and a bill slated for passage in the House will give food packagers until Aug. 18 to use their back inventory.