With the passage of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a lot of attention has been devoted to the new recall authority granted to FDA.
FDA now has the authority to issue mandatory recalls when it deems it is necessary to protect against serious adverse health consequences. And this is not the only consequence of mandatory recall authority (see our recent audio conference for more details). And the U.S. is not the only country where food labeling is receiving increased attention.
Global standards for mandatory nutrition labeling on the back of food packaging appear to be in the offing but standards for the front of packages appear to be a distant dream.
CMAJ recently reported that guidelines will be crafted during 2011 by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling.
According to CMAJ:
Proponents hope the back-of-package labels — which would articulate general information about such things as fat, protein, fibre and calorie content — will serve as an impetus to all nations to adopt official labelling requirements, if only because they would soon become a requisite element of international trade.Much of the debate is now centered around front-of-package vs. back-of-package labels. Coordinating global front-of-package standards for tobacco took decades to achieve - despite lots of evidence indicating that smoking was the cause of all kinds of illnesses.
International standards should "empower" countries to adopt back-of-package labelling standards, says Bill Jeffery, national coordinator for the Canadian office of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest. "Calling it a mandatory standard is really like saying to national governments: 'You're permitted to have a mandatory standard without running afoul of international trade law'."
It is likely that food labeling will travel down a similar path. Back-of-package labeling is a step on that journey towards standardizing nutritional labeling around the world.
For more on global labeling practices, take a look at some of our other articles:
- Cereal maker learns that "labeling" is a broad term
- Becton, Dickinson gets labeling right
- Electronic labeling for medical devices comes to Canada
ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized medical translations for bio-harmaceutical DFUs, packaging, and product labels.