On May 27, 2016, the FDA published new rules updating the type of information shown on Nutrition Facts Labels.
While the changes reflect the latest scientific evidence regarding diet patterns and eating habits, the primary goal of the rule change is to make information presentable in a way that allows consumers to make more informed decisions regarding their calorie and nutrition intake.
This blog post won't go delve deep into the reasons behind the changes, but will instead focus on what information must appear on the Facts Label starting in 2018 and how this will affect food manufacturers.
Read on to learn what’s new to the label, what’s gone, and what’s been updated.
THE IMPACT ON CONSUMERS
The changes to the format of the Facts Panel is what’s most noticeable and sure to garner the most attention. The design has been modified in response to current trends and research, and the amount of calories per serving is now on prominent display at the top of the label. This is the first cue that tells consumers what the FDA deems primary information, and it follows that more emphasis is also given to Serving size (which is called out in boldface type).
This is important since what constitutes a serving size has changed in the decades since the original nutrition label was created. People eat more and as a result % Daily Values have been updated. Serving sizes now reflect how much people actually eat at one time and manufacturers must declare nutritional information per package rather than per serving for those products that are typically consumed in one sitting.
The FDA has deemed Vitamins A and C no longer worthy of label status, and have swapped them with Vitamin D and Potassium. Like Calcium and Iron (which are listed alongside the now replaced Vitamins A and C), Potassium and Vitamin D values must be provided in actual amounts (mg) as well as how much those amounts contribute to a 2000 calorie daily diet (%).
Food manufacturers must also display added sugars (as a subset of total sugars) for their products both in actual (g) and percent daily value amounts based on research that shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs and calorie limits if one consumes more than 10% of calories from added sugar.
Finally, the asterisked information that was once squeezed into the bottom portion of the label will now be displayed as a footnote.
THE IMPACT ON FOOD MANUFACTURERS
Most food manufacturers are already positioned to meet the new requirements from a data attribute standpoint (especially if they are publishing product data through the Global Data Synchronization Network). Manufacturers should pay attention to the FDA's recommended Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed, which will help determine the percent daily values.
Sales reps for distributors and operators should be aware of the new requirements as well as the changes to the label itself. While the impact to them is primarily visual, assets like sell sheets must be updated to display the new information put in place with the FDA's rule.
Manufacturers must be prepared to incorporate the Nutrition Facts Panel changes by July 26, 2018 (July 2019 for manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million). However, on June 13, 2017 the FDA announced that it plans to extend these dates and that a notice will be sent in the near future with more details.
On the surface, the changes to the Nutrition Facts Label are minimal, but the underlying thinking represents an impactful shift regarding the way consumers should purchase and consume food. In summary, the most important things for foodservice manufacturers should be aware of regarding the Facts Label are:
- Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label are scheduled to take effect starting in July 2018
- There is a new look to the label
- Vitamin D and Potassium must be listed
- Added Sugars must be listed
For more information visit the FDA website.