Dems offer bill to overhaul food labels

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation to overhaul food labeling.

The Food Labeling Modernization Act, offered in the House by Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and in the upper chamber by Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalElizabeth Warren joins House Dems' sit-in Democrats stage sit-in on House floor to push for gun vote Dems blast Republicans after failed gun votes MORE (D-Conn.) and Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Overnight Healthcare: Dems trying to force Zika vote | White House tries to stall opioids bill for $$ | Free Lyft rides from ObamaCare Overnight Healthcare: New momentum to lift ban on gay men donating blood MORE (D-Mass.), directs the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to create a single standard for front-of-package labeling required for all food products.

The bill also directs HHS to develop new guidelines that define when the words “healthy” or “made with whole grain” can be used and force manufacturers to list percent daily values for calories and sugar, as well as the amount of sugar that is not naturally occurring, on the Nutrition Facts label.

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In a news release, Blumenthal said the measure is a common sense solution to the deceptive and confusing dietary information listed on the products that fill grocery store shelves now.

“Americans deserve to know what is in the food they eat,” he said. “By empowering consumers with accurate, truthful and concise information, this legislation will enable them to make healthier choices and outsmart deceptive pitches and promotions.”

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed updating the Nutrition Facts label to require information about “added sugars” and is considering making calorie and serving size information more prominent. The agency recently asked the public to comment on when the word "natural" should be allowed on food products.

The Food Labeling Modernization Act aims to streamline those changes by overhauling the nation’s food labeling requirements.

Consumer advocacy groups hailed the bill.

“When ‘whole grain’ waffles can be made with white flour and ‘all natural’ ingredients can contain synthetic high-fructose corn syrup, it’s clear our food labels are due for a makeover,” Laura MacCleery, director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science and Public Interest, said in a news release.