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Happy Birthday To Nutritional Food Labels

Nutrition Food Labels Turn 20

Food labels denoting nutritional values are ubiquitous. Most customers probably couldn't remember the last time they bought a product without at least noticing the table of nutritional information on its packaging. But food labels weren't always there.

Surprisingly enough, federally mandated nutritional food labels have only been around for the last 20 years. Such labels celebrated their anniversary recently, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule for labeling on January 6, 1993. The initiative was part of the larger Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, but nonetheless marks an important milestone in U.S nutrition history.

"It was revolutionary," Jessica Leighton, senior nutrition science and policy advisor for the FDA, told Consumer Affairs. "For the first time, people had consistent information they need right at the point of purchase for the majority of packaged food products."

A Look Ahead For Food Labels
While consumers can look back on 20 years of existence for food labels, some legal experts are looking ahead. In an interview published on legal news source JDSupra, Stefanie Fogel, food safety expert for global law firm DLA Piper, highlighted the growing support for GMO labeling as the most important task facing lawmakers and the food industry. Fogel said she expects private and public parties to come together and develop a clearly formed and defined set of GMO labeling principles in the near future.