FDA Modernizes Nutrition Facts Label For Packaged Foods, Changes Over the Next Two Years Will Help Consumers Make Healthier Choices

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23 May 2016 –- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken a major step in making sure consumers have updated nutritional information for most packaged foods sold in the US, that will help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed their families. The changes are set to be made to the panel over the next two to three years.

“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,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “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.”

"We applaud the FDA and are thrilled that the new Panel largely aligns with recommendations the Academy submitted to the FDA to help everyone make more informed and nutritious decisions when choosing foods to fit their lifestyles and needs," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Lori Zanini. "The new Panel better reflects serving size, nutrients and ingredients that people should focus on, and it updates current percent of Daily Values.”

Key UpdatesClick to Enlarge

The new Nutrition Facts label will include the following:

• An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices.

• Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat.

• Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product. 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 sugars, and this is consistent with the scientific evidence supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

• “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples include a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips. 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.

• For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.

• Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D, consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and are used to calculate the %DV that manufacturers include on the label.

• Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount, in addition to the %DV. These are nutrients that some people are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. The %DV for calcium and iron will continue to be required, along with the actual gram amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare, but these nutrients can be included on a voluntary basis.

• “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.

• An abbreviated footnote to better explain the %DV.

The FDA is also making minor changes to the Supplement Facts label found on dietary supplements to make it consistent with the Nutrition Facts label.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules. The FDA plans to conduct outreach and education efforts on the new requirements.

The iconic Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago to help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. In March 2014, the FDA proposed two rules to update the label, and in July 2015, issued a supplemental proposed rule. The Nutrition Facts label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the US. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FDA, an agency within the US. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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

"Americans concerned about nutrition and their health owe a special debt of gratitude for the role played by the First Lady of the United States," Jacobson said. "Michelle Obama's leadership accelerated these updates to Nutrition Facts labels, and the helpful changes will be a major part of the Obama Administration's food policy legacy, along with improving school foods, eliminating artificial trans fat, putting calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, and spurring positive progress by the food industry."    

In response to the release of the FDA rule change on the Nutrition Facts Panel, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement: “We believe that people should have clear and understandable nutrition facts about foods and beverages so that they can make informed choices that are right for themselves and their families. America’s beverage companies have supported nutrition transparency; it’s why we voluntarily placed clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle and can we produce in support of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010.”

“We look forward to continuing our commitment to offer a wide variety of beverages – including more low and no-calorie options and smaller portion sizes – and to engaging with the FDA to make sure consumers have the information they need.”

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