A GROWING PROBLEM:
INACCURATE LABELS ON THE RISE
In 2017 and 2018, 30 proposals in 11 different states required warning labels or ingredient listings that go beyond national standards related to a variety of common consumer products including cell phones, french fries, coffee and more.
Inaccurate Labels Are Costly & Confusing To Consumers
Unfounded warnings or ingredient mandates are costly and confusing to consumers and present obstacles to interstate commerce.
- Unwarranted warning labels hit consumers in their pocketbooks.
- Bureaucratic hurdles and the cost of printing separate packaging can prevent businesses from expanding and selling products in multiple states.
- Farmers, small businesses, retailers and manufacturers struggle to keep up with a myriad of changing labeling requirements, which exposes them to excessive lawsuits.
BY THE NUMBERS: American Beliefs About State & City Labeling Mandates
More than eight in ten Americans (83 percent) support using “smart labels” to provide customers with accurate information about products on websites or through smartphone apps to get more information than could fit on product packaging.
Think New Requirements Must Be Based On Sound Science & Legitimate Risk
More than half of Americans (56 percent) believe that if states or cities want to impose their own requirements on product labels, additional labeling mandates must be based on sound science and legitimate risk to people using the product. Fewer than one out of five people (18 percent) believe that states or cities should be able to impose whatever requirements they want. A smaller percentage (15 percent) do not think states or localities should be able to impose new requirements at all.
Statistics based on a national survey conducted August 16-17, 2017 by Echelon Insights and Momentum Analysis
Congress Must Amend the Fair Packaging & Labeling Act
States that want to enact labeling mandates beyond federal standards should be required to demonstrate, based on sound scientific evidence, that a product presents meaningful risks.
To improve the quality and availability of information for consumers, Congress must amend the Fair Packaging & Labeling Act to:
- Establish science-based criteria for all additional state labeling requirements.
- Allow state-mandated product information to be provided through smartphone-enabled “smart labels” and on websites.
- Clarify that trace amounts of substances do not have to be listed as ingredients.
States should be required to “show their work” by documenting the science behind their proposed labeling mandates. The evidence must be based on widely-accepted methods of study, real world circumstances and meet high standards of integrity.
The SmartLabel™ transparency initiative puts detailed information at the fingertips of consumers who can scan a barcode with their phone or visit a website to find up-to-date, relevant ingredients and warnings, as well as additional information that would not fit on a package label.
In many cases, minute amounts of substances are present unintentionally due to packaging, transport or display. This national standard will prevent farmers, manufacturers and retailers from being held liable for not listing trace amounts of substances they are unaware of or for situations beyond their control.
These changes to federal law will ensure that consumers continue to benefit from the nutritional and allergy information on packaging today, while guaranteeing that any additional product information required by states or localities is clear, accurate, meaningful and science-based.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA)?
Congress passed the FPLA in 1966 to help ensure that packages and their labels provide consumers with accurate information about the products they buy. The law requires labels on consumer products to include the name and place of the manufacturer, packer or distributor; the quantity of contents in weight, measure or numerical count; and a statement that identifies the commodity (e.g., detergent, sponges). The FDA and FTC enforce the law.
Why does the FPLA need to be amended in this way?
A growing number of states and cities are requiring or proposing mandatory labels on packaging that are not backed by science and that imply risks when none exist. Those inaccurate labels mislead consumers, drive up prices and create costly new regulatory burdens, especially for American farmers and small businesses.
The amendment to FPLA will ensure that consumers continue to benefit from the nutritional and allergy information on packaging today, while guaranteeing that any additional product information required by states or localities is clear, accurate, meaningful and science-based.
How will consumers benefit from this initiative?
This initiative protects consumers’ right to know while ensuring that the information required on product labels is accurate, clear and based on sound science. Beyond protecting essential information, this initiative seeks to keep costs low for people by eliminating unfounded warnings or ingredient mandates that are costly and confusing to consumers and present obstacles to interstate commerce.
Would the Coalition’s legislative proposal affect warning labels for common allergens (e.g., peanuts, shellfish) and medications?
No, current labeling required by the FDA, EPA, USDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission for common allergens and medical drugs would remain in place.
Would the Coalition's legislative proposal change FDA Nutrition Facts label requirements (i.e., serving size, calories, % daily value)?
No, the proposed amendment to FPLA would only affect labeling requirements that would go beyond federal standards.
Would a person who does not use a smartphone still be able to access the information provided through “smart labels”?
Yes, the same information would be accessible through traditional websites on computers and other internet ready devices. Physical packaging on products would continue to include the nutritional and allergy warning information that is available today.