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Washington—The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced that it is extending the period to receive comments and information on the use of the term “healthy” on food labels.

FDA had announced back in September that it had started a public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for use on food labels. The original deadline for submitting comments was January 26, 2017.

The agency is now extending that deadline until April 26, 2017.

FDA said it had received requests to extend the comment period. Those requests conveyed concern that the original 120-day comment period did not allow sufficient time to develop meaningful or thoughtful comments to the questions and issues FDA presented in its original notice.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) requested an extension of 60 days for the comment period “so that all interested parties including industry, academia, trade associations, and consumer groups have adequate time to compile and organize key data for submission.”

The scope of the issues related to the use of the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” is “quite complex and scientific in nature, thus requiring comprehensive data from multiple facets of the nutrition science, food industry and public health community,” GMA added.

Further, an additional time allotment to submit comments would enable associations such as GMA time to confer with its members to obtain views and collect data and other information that could be useful in evaluating nutrient and other criteria as well as applicability of the term to consumers within the general population.

GMA also pointed out that a portion of the original 120-day comment period falls at the end of the year with three major holidays observed by many companies and agencies, which involve several days of work interruption for most Americans. Comments may be submitted by April 26, 2017, at The docket number is FDA-2016-D-2335.

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