NEWS: Sanders Sends Letter to FDA Commissioner Urging Strong Warning Labels to Combat Diabetes Epidemic and Obesity in America

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 – As discussions on a new proposed front-of-package label rule that would better inform consumers about the health impacts of their food are underway at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. urging the FDA to require corporations in the food and beverage industry to put strong, evidence-based warning labels on their products to protect the health of the American people.

“I am encouraged that the FDA has begun the process of issuing a proposed front-of-package label rule that would better inform consumers about the health impacts of their products high in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats,” wrote Sanders. “However, from what I have seen thus far, these efforts do not go nearly far enough.”

Sanders continued, “In my view, we need strong front-of-package labels so that all consumers, especially children, can understand which products are harmful to their health. Tobacco labels in the United States do not say ‘high in tar, high in nicotine, high in carcinogens.’ They say ‘cigarettes cause cancer.’”

Today, one out of every five children and over 40 percent of adults in our country are obese. Equally as alarming, more than 10 percent of people in the United States have type-two diabetes. According to a recent study, ultra-processed foods now make up an incredible 73 percent of our nation’s food supply and can be as addictive as alcohol and nearly as addictive as cigarettes. It is estimated that, if the United States does not change course, the number of children with type-2 diabetes will increase by 700 percent over the next 40 years.

Countries like Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, and others have successfully implemented strong front-of-package nutrient warning labels. New nutrient warning labels implemented in Chile were associated with fewer purchases of unhealthy products high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. In Mexico, front-of-package labels include a stop sign and additional disclosures that identify products containing caffeine and other harmful ingredients that should be avoided by children.

Last December, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the diabetes epidemic in America. The Committee will soon hold a hearing to discuss how the FDA can better fulfill its mission to protect and advance public health by ensuring that the food and beverages Americans consume do not harm them. Sanders has invited FDA Commissioner Califf to testify.

To read the full letter, click here.