Washington (April 26, 2023) –Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in introducing the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023 . The bill would update front-of-package food labeling requirements, require updates to the ingredient list on packaged foods, and apply consumer friendly labeling requirements.

In addition to Senator Markey, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined the effort to update food labels as original cosponsors of the legislation in their respective chambers.

“The food we eat should have clear and consistent labelling so that every American can know not only what they pay for, but consume,” said Senator Markey. “The health of our communities is inseparable from access to healthy food. We must not only work to ensure every family can afford their food but also ensure that Americans have the information they need to make the right choice for themselves and their loved ones. It’s past time we updated and modernized food labels on grocery store shelves.” 

“We’ve all struggled at times to navigate today’s opaque food labels and ‘healthy’ marketing claims during trips to the grocery store,” said Representative Pallone. “The Food Labeling Modernization Act will update our nation’s food labeling requirements to provide consumers with clearer nutritional information and rein in misleading marketing claims. This legislation will make it easier for consumers to determine the right food choices for their families at the grocery store. I look forward to working with my colleagues to finally update our nation’s food labels.”

“This legislation will reform antiquated labeling rules that undercut efforts to buy healthy food,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Consumers deserve straightforward, easily accessible information about the ingredients and nutritional value of products they want to buy. With front of package labels, clearly marked allergens, and clarified guidelines to deter misleading claims, our measure will bring transparency and simplicity to Americans’ shopping experience.”

In the United States, obesity and diet-related disease are responsible for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year, as well as increased health care costs. However, food labeling requirements do not always provide families with the information they need to make healthy choices. The majority of the food labeling provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act have not been updated since 1990 and in some cases have not been changed since 1938. As a result, labels do not provide the information that today’s consumers need to evaluate and compare products in order to make healthy choices.

To help consumers select healthy products, the Food Labeling Modernization Act would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a single, standard front-of-package nutrition labeling system in a timely manner for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling.

The bill would also strengthen current law to address trends in marketing that confuse or mislead consumers when they are attempting to compare food products. Specifically, the legislation will require new guidelines for the use of the word “healthy.”

“Times have changed, our shopping habits have changed, and the food industry is always evolving,” said Representative DeLauro. “It is past time that food labeling caught up. Improvements are desperately needed. Front-of-package labels are the future, and a welcomed change that will better consumer knowledge of what is in the food they buy. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Food Labeling Modernization Act, to improve food labeling requirements and ensure that consumers can understand what they are buying and consuming.” 

“Americans are too often misled by unclear or deceptive food labels because federal labeling standards haven’t been updated in decades,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill will modernize labeling rules to help consumers gain a better understanding of what’s in their food so they can make healthier decisions and better avoid potentially dangerous allergens."

“Food labels play an important role in managing conditions such as celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, but they need to be complete and easier to understand,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation will ensure Marylanders have the nutrition information needed to make safe, informed decisions.”

"Ultra-processed foods promoted by big food companies have helped lead to an explosion of diet-related diseases such as diabetes in our country,” said Senator Booker. “Deceptive tactics are often used to market these products, by making them seem healthy or by obscuring high levels of added sugars and salts. Companies should have to be transparent about what is in ultra-processed foods, and consumers should be warned when there are excess sugars or salts in a given product. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill that would make food labels clearer and more useable, to allow consumers to make informed decisions about what they eat."

The Food Labeling Modernization Act is supported by Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Reports, Consumer Federation of America, Environmental Working Group, International Fresh Produce Association, Gluten Free Watchdog, Celiac Disease Foundation, and Beyond Celiac.

“The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023 will increase transparency and promote healthy choices through food labels,” said Dr. Peter G. Lurie, President of CSPI. “Tackling our nation’s enormous burden of diet-related disease will require a whole-of-government approach. With the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2023, Congress joins the White House and federal agencies in taking steps to improve the health of our nation’s food supply, and in turn promote the health of our population.”

Over the last few years, the Food and Drug Administration has updated some requirements for the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods. The Food Labeling Modernization Act would build on that initial progress by ensuring consumers have access to easy-to-read information in order to make informed purchasing decisions.

Bill text is available HERE.