U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 3147) seeking to "modernize" food labeling by updating the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list requirements, addressing front-of-package (FOP) labeling, and eliminating misleading health claims. Titled the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2013, the bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "to issue comprehensive guidance for industry clarifying the scientific support needed to prevent false or misleading information for structure/function claims and giving the Secretary the legal authority to compel companies to turn over their substantiation documents." It would also direct HHS to (i) establish "a single, standard [FOP] labeling system in a timely manner for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling," (ii) update the definition of the term "healthy" according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, (iii) standardize the term "natural," (iv) require products identified as "made with whole grain" to disclose the percentage of whole grain, (v) require labels to disclose the amount of caffeine in a product if it exceeds 10 milligrams, (vi) revise the Nutritional Facts panel to include "the percent daily values for calories and sugar, as well as the amount of sugar that is not naturally occurring," and (vii) ensure that "any product containing an amount of food reasonably consumed on a single occasion to state on the label that a single package contains one serving size."
"Childhood obesity has nearly tripled in the past 30 years and is a huge public health problem in this country that puts millions of American children at risk. Healthy eating is critical to combating this epidemic. That is why it is so important that when families make the effort to eat nutritious, healthy food, the labels on food products help them make the right choices—not confuse or mislead them," said Pallone. "The Food Labeling Modernization Act is a comprehensive approach to updating labels so that consumers have the clear, consistent information they need when making important decisions about the food they buy and give to their families." See Congressional Fact Sheet and Press Releases of Rep. DeLauro and Rep. Pallone, September 19, 2013.