Trump’s executive order on food labeling comes as industry pushes back

By ALEX SCHNEIDERMAN | 07/12/2018 11:20AM EDTIn a move aimed at ending the confusion and misinformation surrounding the labeling of processed foods, the Trump administration on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at stopping food manufacturers from using misleading information about food safety and nutrition to lure consumers away from traditional foods.

The order will allow the Food and Drug Administration to issue a nationwide voluntary disclosure standard for all food ingredients, including food products labeled with the word “organic.”

While the rule will allow food manufacturers to claim a lower risk of food poisoning and other health issues when using the term “organic,” it will also require companies to post warnings on food labels warning consumers about the potential dangers of certain food ingredients.

The order is part of a broader administration effort to tackle the food-safety concerns associated with the use of genetically engineered ingredients in food, and it comes after the Trump Administration issued a directive earlier this year to eliminate a key section of the Food Safety Modernization Act that has allowed food companies to sell their foods as “organic” if they adhere to the label requirements.

The FDA has long warned that food manufacturers are often deceiving consumers by using misleading claims about the safety of food ingredients and are required to disclose the risks to consumers.

The Food and Biotechnology Industry Organization, the trade group that represents the food industry, slammed the new guidance in a statement, saying that it would likely have a significant impact on the industry.

“We are concerned that the FDA’s guidance will result in a substantial increase in food labeling that will result not only in consumers paying more for food but also could result in misleading claims of health benefits,” the group said.

The group added that the Trump order was “not a comprehensive plan for improving food safety.”

In addition to the voluntary disclosure rule, the order requires the FDA to issue regulations clarifying that the term ‘organic’ can include “organic farm-raised and organic food.”

Under the order, the FDA would also need to “establish procedures to monitor food labeling compliance, particularly at retail stores and on food distribution sites.”

It is not clear if the order will be put into effect.

In a statement announcing the order on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that it “will take a strong and focused public health approach to reduce foodborne illnesses and the risks associated with these illnesses.”

The Food & Drug Administration has not yet said when the voluntary transparency standard will be implemented.