New Changes for the Nutrition Facts Label

Will Clearer Food Labels, Make Healthier Choices Clearer?,” is a question we will soon have the answer to! On May 20, 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) announced that a new nutrition facts panel will be required for many packaged foods. By July 26, 2018 all manufacturers with annual food sales greater than $10 million will have to comply with the label changes, and all companies with less than $10 million in sales will need to comply by July 26, 2019.

While many products are included in these changes there are a few categories that are exempt. Meat, poultry, processed eggs, and fish will not be affected by the change.

First Lady Michelle Obama shared her thoughts in the release, “The White House and FDA Announce Modernized Nutrition Facts Label.” “I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide. This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices,” said Obama.

In addition to this, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. shared his support of the changes as well. According to the article “FDA modernizes Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods,” Califf said, “For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day. The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Listed below are important updates regarding changes to the label:

Design

  • The label will have the same iconic look, but will include updates to make key information stand out.
    • “Calories” and “Servings per container” will have an increased font size.
    • In addition to this, “Serving size” and “Calories” will be bolded.
  • There will be an actual amount in addition to a percent for the Daily Value of “Vitamin D,” “Calcium,” “Iron,” and “Potassium.”
  • There will also be a better explanation of Daily Value percent as indicated on the new label pictured below.

Nutrition Science

  • To help consumers know the quantity of “Added Sugars” for a particular product, the declaration of grams and a Percent Daily Value have been added.
  • There are also new requirements for some nutrients, while others are no longer required.
    • Required nutrients include:
      • Vitamin D (new requirement)
      • Potassium (new requirement)
      • Calcium
      • Iron
    • Nutrients that are no longer required include:
      • Vitamin A
      • Vitamin C
  • “Calories from Fat” is being removed from the label.
  • Daily values for nutrients are being updated based on newer evidence from the Institute of Medicine, such as:
    • Sodium
    • Dietary Fiber
    • Vitamin D
  • Updates With Serving Sizes
    • According to the law, serving sizes must be based on amounts people are actually in taking, not what they should be eating.
    • Products that are larger than a single serving, but can be consumed in a sitting or multiple sittings will have to have a “Dual Column” label to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients for “Per Serving” and “Per Packaging”/”Per Unit” basis.

In a nutshell, the major changes to the food label include modifying the nutrients list that must be on the label, updating serving size, and providing a refreshed design. The idea is to help consumers manage calorie intake and cut sugar intake for a healthier diet.

Label Comparison

(Pictured above is a comparison of the original label versus the new label. Source: fda.gov.)