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Connecticut's Blumenthal, DeLauro Call For Food Labeling Overhaul

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and other politicians have introduced legislation that would help overhaul the food labeling system.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and other politicians have introduced legislation that would help overhaul the food labeling system. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Two Connecticut politicians are among those calling for the labeling of genetically engineered foods such as salmon.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumental (D-Conn.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd) joined U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey to press legislation that will, they say, clarify and update nutrition information on food packaging and address misleading health claims.

The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 has been introduced in both the Senate and the House, the Democratic senator said.

Using genetically engineered salmon as an example, Blumenthal said he was appalled that the Food and Drug Administration does not require it to be labeled as such.

Genetically engineered salmon are injected with the DNA of another fish to make it grow bigger and faster, media reports said.

Calling the measure “a commonsense solution,” Blumenthal said food labeling laws have been unchanged since the 1990s.

“Americans deserve to know what is in the food they eat,” Blumenthal said.

The proposed law will, he added, enable consumers to “make healthier choices, and outsmart deceptive pitches and promotions.”

The act’s signature initiative will direct the Health and Human Services secretary to establish a single, standard front of package nutrition labeling system. It will also strengthen current laws governing trends in marketing that “confuse or mislead consumers.”

Specifically, it will require new guidelines for the use of the words “healthy” or “made with whole grain.”

“When ‘whole grain’ waffles can be made with white flour, and ‘all natural’ ingredients can contain synthetic high-fructose corn syrup, it’s clear our food labels are due for a makeover,” said CSPI Director of Regulatory Affairs Laura MacCleery. “And putting easy-to-interpret nutrition symbols on the fronts of packages would be a major advance for consumers who want to make healthy choices in an instant.”

The bill also calls for labels with the percent daily values for calories and sugar, as well as the amount of sugar that is not naturally occurring.

The FDA has, Blumenthal said, proposed requiring food labels to contain information about added sugars, updated serving size requirements, and to make calorie and serving size information more prominent.

The agency also recently sought public comment on the use of the word “natural” on food products, he said.

DeLauro said the legislation will give food labeling requirements “an important and long overdue overhaul” and provide consumers with “clear, accurate, and fair information about products.”

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