YOUR NEW NUTRITION FACTS LABEL RESOURCE
When looking at the new nutrition facts panel recently published in a final rule by FDA, you may be thinking, “No big deal. I’ll have the graphics people make the calories bigger, flip a few nutrients, include a line for added sugars, add a few amounts to the vitamins and minerals, and I’ll be done.” But there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you probably realize.
Two sets of regulations concerning changes to the nutrition facts panel and changes to many of the reference amounts customarily consumed (RACC) were published to the Federal Register May 27. These regulations went into effect July 26. Companies that have more than $10 million in annual food sales will need to be in compliance with the regulations by July 26, 2018; those with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year – until July 26, 2019, to come into compliance.
The impact of these regulations on the food industry, especially coming on top of other key food safety regulations, is enormous. Costs associated with this change are estimated to be at least $2.3 billion. Every FDA-regulated food package that currently uses a nutrition panel will need to have changes made to the information in the panel as well as the format.
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New Nutrition labeling FAQ
Yes, foods imported to the United States will need to meet the final requirements.
Manufacturers will have until July 26, 2018 to comply with the final requirements, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.
Some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease because by law, the serving sizes must be based on the amounts of food and drink that people typically consume, not on how much they should consume. Recent food consumption data show that some serving sizes need to be revised. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup and now is changing to â…” cup. The reference amount used to set a serving size of soda was previously 8 ounces and now is changing to 12 ounces. The reference amount for yogurt is decreasing from 8 ounces to 6 ounces. Nutrient information on the new label will be based on these updated serving sizes so it matches what people actually consume.
You will still recognize the label, but we have made some improvements to the format to provide significant public health information. Changes include:
- Highlighting “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration by increasing the type size and placing the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration in bold type.
- Requiring manufacturers to declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value, of the mandatory vitamins and minerals.
- Adding “Includes X g Added Sugars” directly beneath the listing for “Total Sugars.”
- Changing the footnote to better explain the percent Daily Value. It will now 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.”
Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients Americans don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/), and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and potassium helps to lower blood pressure. Calcium and iron are already required and will continue to be on the label.
Trans fat will be reduced but not eliminated from foods, so FDA will continue to require it on the label. In 2015, the FDA published a final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the source of artificial trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe, but this determination would not affect naturally occurring trans fat, which would still exist in the food supply. Trans fat is present naturally in food from some animals, mainly ruminants such as cows and goats. Also, industry can currently use some oils that are approved as food additives and can still petition FDA for certain uses of PHOs.
The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.
For industry and those interested in the more technical version of the definition, please consult page 33980 of the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule.
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars.
In addition, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars. On average, Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages) and snacks and sweets (including grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings).
The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern. But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits. The updates to the label will help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. Consumers may or may not decide to reduce the consumption of certain foods with added sugars, based on their individual needs or preferences.
The final rule requires “Includes X g Added Sugars” to be included under “Total Sugars” to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to the product.
The changes include modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updating serving size requirements, and providing a refreshed design. The new Nutrition Facts label will make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
The current label is more than 20 years old. In order to make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, it’s time to make changes to the Nutrition Facts label. The changes recently announced are based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.