ACA Lauds Introduction of the Accurate Labels Act
Federal legislation introduced on March 2 would amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act — administered by the Federal Trade Commission — which aims to provide American consumers nationwide with clear, accurate and meaningful information and prevent the issuance of inaccurate labels that mislead consumers and drive up prices. H.R. 6044, the Accurate Labels Act (ALA), was introduced by Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). The bipartisan legislation would establish a federal standard for labeling and ingredient disclosure requirements that is risk-based and substantiated by sound science.
ACA believes that uniform national standards will increase the relevance, consistency and accuracy of information about products and ensure greater certainty and clarity for consumers, farmers, food producers, manufacturers, small businesses and retailers. ACA and other members of the Coalition for Accurate Labels hailed the effort, noting that American consumers have a right to clear, accurate and meaningful information about the products that they buy. ACA believes there is an urgent need for uniform national standards to increase the relevance, consistency and accuracy of information about products. ACA and others believe the ALA is necessary to provide consumers with clarity amidst a confusing patchwork of state and local labeling and disclosure laws.
The ALA will amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act to:
- Ensure consumers have access to clear, accurate and meaningful product labels;
- Establish science-based criteria for state and local labeling requirements to ensure consistent, high-quality consumer information;
- Allow state-mandated product information to be provided through smartphone-enabled “smart labels” and on websites;
- Ensure that covered product information is risk-based; and
- Leave current federal laws unchanged related to allergens, nutrition facts and medicines.
In a letter of support sent to the bill’s sponsors, ACA and coalition members noted that their industries are committed to providing meaningful transparency to consumers, however, “unjustified warning labels and disclosures are being mandated on a variety of everyday products, regardless of whether there is an actual risk. These misleading labels do not help consumers make informed choices; rather, they cause unnecessary confusion and concern. Meanwhile, farmers, small businesses, retailers and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the myriad of changing requirements in numerous states and localities. State and locally mandated labeling schemes that require baseless warnings not backed by science damage consumer confidence, drive up costs, and present obstacles to interstate commerce.”
In addition to providing for consumers to have appropriate and meaningful information based on a credible, scientific standard when making purchasing decisions, the Accurate Labels Act will also eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens for businesses looking to expand into new states.
ACA is a member of the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, along with nearly 100 members representing a broad range of product sectors, including agriculture, chemicals, food, and plastics, among others. Coalition members believe that Congress should amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act to create a national standard that will ensure consumers continue to benefit from product labeling information, including nutritional and allergy information on packaging today, while guaranteeing that additional product information required by states or localities is clear, accurate and based on sound science.
Since 2017, there have been 62 proposals in 17 states that would require warning labels or ingredient listings that are based on questionable science and may cause unnecessary confusion and concern for consumers, cited by the coalition. The coalition also cites research indicating that 62 percent of Americans believe the federal government should set the standard for what labels must be included on products consumers buy; and that more than four in five (83 percent) Americans support using digital disclosure through smartphones or web sites as a transparent way to access accurate, detailed information on the products they use.
ACA is eager to work with members of Congress to ensure that product labels provide consumers the best scientifically informed information available, and in this way, create a clear, navigable set of labeling standards for industry.
Contact ACA’s Riaz Zaman for more information.