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In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided on a brand new list of requirements for nutritional and ingredient labeling for food products throughout the entire nation. The reason was to reflect updates in nutritional and health science information and enable consumers to make more educated choices when selecting their food. Although the new labels are already appearing on food products through the USA, some companies have still not made the switch.

Presently, companies that manufacture items and make over $10 million in annual sales must have new nutritional and ingredient labels in use no later than the first of January 2020. Companies with less than $10 million made annually and who use certain ingredients, like sugar and honey, have until January 2021.

The Changes Made To Nutritional Labels

So what has been altered? What remains the same? How will your business and customers be affected by the changes?

 

Here is a breakdown of all the changes made:

Serving Sizes

The first thing many people will notice is the very top section of the label. While the overall design of nutritional labels remain the same, words and format have been subtly changed. Now, you will see that serving size has been written as “servings per container” above “serving size,” which is now printed in bold font. This allows for easier reading.

Plus, the FDA has updated some serving sizes to reflect the amount of food people usually eat in one sitting. For instance, ice cream used to be listed as ½ cup. The updated format lists a serving size as ¾ cup.

The idea is to help consumers make better food choices and moderate their consumption of certain foods.

Calorie Content and Fat

Next, calorie count is printed in a much bigger font. This helps consumers see the amount of calories in a single serving very easily without having to look anywhere else on the label for additional information.

Interestingly, “calories from fat” has been erased. The aim here is to get people less concerned about the amount of fat in food and more about the type of fat.

Required Nutrients

Another overhaul was the required nutrients section. In the past, it was confusing for consumers to understand just how much of one nutrient they needed per day with just the percentages. The latest update to nutritional labels stipulates that the amount of nutrients within the food item must be declared.

Also, what nutrients and vitamins must be listed, as well as the footnote, will be changed. The FDA explains the changes:

“The footnote is changing to better explain what percent Daily Value means. It will read: ‘The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

Furthermore, the FDA states: Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamin A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.”

Daily Value Percentages

Following the above listed changes, you might notice that the FDA has increased or decreased some of the percent Daily Values to better reflect the foods that are being consumed throughout the day.

New regulations also state that daily value percentages of any vitamin or mineral must not exceed 100%.

Added Sugars

The newest addition to the nutritional label focuses on sugars that have been added to the product. In other words, it is a measurement of any sugar used to sweeten the product that is not naturally occurring. Added sugars are not solely syrups like high fructose corn syrup. Natural sweeteners like fruit juices, honey, agave, and more also count in this total.

Science has revealed that sugar, particularly added sugar, can be detrimental to your health. Therefore, the FDA hopes that drawing attention to the amount of sugars added to a packaged food item can help people be more informed. After all, it becomes challenging to remain within your daily caloric range if you are getting more than the recommend 10% of calories from added sugar.

Dietary Fiber & Sodium

Once overlooked, dietary fiber recommendations have been changed. Previously, the USDA recommended people get around 25 grams per day. That has been increased to 28 grams. Again, this is reflect societal eating habits and what is necessary for people to live a healthier life.

Similarly, sodium has been changed. Before, the recommended daily value (DV) was listed as 2,400 mg/day. As of 2020, sodium’s RDA is 2,300 mg. Additionally, if a food item is to be marketed as low sodium, it must now show that the percentage of sodium in the item is 5% or less than 2,300 mg.

Are You Complaint?

Understanding these changes, also well as when you have to make the updates to nutritional labels, ensures that you remain complaint and do not receive penalties. Failing to be complaint with the changes means fines and other legal issues.

Since these changes affect all kinds of packaged food items, including baked goods all the way to breath mints, knowing what is expected of your business is essential! Considering visiting the FDA website for additional research.

Takeaway

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to work with manufacturers during the transition from old to new nutritional labeling, knowing the reasons behind the changes and the format is important. Keep in mind that, depending on your products, you may have until 2021 to make changes, while most manufacturers will need to make labeling updates as soon as July 2020.

Do you have questions about the changes to nutritional labeling? Need more information or resources? Get in touch with us by filling out the contact form.

References and resources

Side-by-side comparison with new and old labels: https://www.fda.gov/media/97999/download (PDF)
Side-by-side comparison in Spanish: https://www.fda.gov/media/98110/download (PDF)
Other information: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label#highlight3
Rulings for specific changes:
1. Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2012-N-1210-0875
2. Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Occasion: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2004-N-0258-0136
3. Extension of the Compliance Date: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/04/2018-09476/food-labeling-revision-of-the-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels-and-serving-sizes-of-foods-that