This last year the FDA officially updated the nutrition fact label requirements for all retail products. This means that if you manufacture a food product, your design and quality assurance teams will have to update the information that you include in the nutrition facts on the back of your product package.
“On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.” Source
This update won’t be officially required on labels until July 26, 2018, so you’ve got about a year left to make any changes happen. However, if you are a manufacturer with less than $10 million in annual food sales, you will have an extra year to comply.
What’s Changing On Nutrition Facts Labels
Emphasized Text Size
The iconic look of the rectangular label remains, but they’ve added emphasis on certain information that they want to highlight for consumers. For example, the font size for “calories”, “serving size” and “servings per container” have been made bigger and bolder.
Key Vitamins Required
Key vitamins like vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium will be required and will include both the actual amount as well as the percentage of your daily requirements. All other vitamins and nutrients will remain voluntary.
Percent Daily Value Explained Better
What the percent daily value is will be better explained. 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.”
Incorporates New Information About Good Nutrition
Now Showing Added Sugars
Any added sugars will now be required on the label in both grams and daily percentage, as a subsection of total sugars. Their reasoning is “scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar”. Source
Updated Vitamins and Nutrients Required
The list of nutrients and vitamins that are required on the label are being updated. Vitamin D and potassium will now be required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” has been removed. This is because they’ve learned that the type of fat is more important than the amount of it.
Updated Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes
The FDA states, “By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example… the reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package”/“per unit” basis. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.” Source