US bakers call for harmonizing GMO and nutrition facts label compliance dates

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

IBA says “added sugar” in the nutrition facts label could put a burden on bakeries. Pic: ©GettyImages/alexskopje
IBA says “added sugar” in the nutrition facts label could put a burden on bakeries. Pic: ©GettyImages/alexskopje

Related tags Nutrition facts Nutrition facts label Nutrition facts panel Sugar

The Independent Bakers Association (IBA) is calling for the FDA and USDA to synchronize the compliance deadline for the nutrition facts panel with GMO disclosure date.

“Our members still face several procedural and technical hurdles as they work to comply with the immense series of rules by the deadline,”​ said IBA’s president, Nicholas Pyle.

The FDA recently proposed to extend the compliance dates for the nutrition facts label​ to January 1, 2020 for manufacturers with $10m or more in annual sales. Companies with annual sales less than that would receive an additional year to comply.

However, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has not given a compliance date for labeling GMO ingredients, even though the US Congress passed the National Bioengineered Foods Disclosure Standard in 2016.

Redundant costs

“A top concern for IBA members is avoiding redundant costs in designing and printing new labels to comply with new regulations,”​ Pyle said.

“We firmly believe the benefit of requiring new labels printed once to provide that information, then a year or two later to provide additional information is outweighed by the immense cost to the entire food-supply chain and to consumers​.

“We are also encouraging both agencies (FDA and USDA) and Congress to consider a solution to the broader labeling harmonization issue beyond these two regulations (nutrition facts panel and GMO label),”​ he added.

Confusion of ‘added sugar’

On top of the additional packaging costs, IBA also said placing “added sugar” o​n the nutrition facts label could create a “disproportionate burden on the manufacturers of baked goods that undergo yeast fermentation.”

According to the FDA, the current definition of added sugars includes “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.”

Pyle suggested manufacturers should not include added sugar that is used in the fermentation process.

“There was no industry-accepted standard calculation for determining which type of sugar molecule was being used in a particular yeast fermentation reaction - whether added granular sugar or natural sugars from milk or fruit ingredients,”​ he said.

He added the FDA had told IBA and members of the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) last month that further clarification of the added sugar would come in the form of guidance “soon.”

IBA represents over 100 privately-owned bakeries across the US, including Bimbo Bakeries, Cellone Bakery and Uptown Bakers.

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