Nutrition Labels: What the New Regulations Mean for You

October 6, 2015

Most of the foods consumed in the United States have one thing in common: they all have a nutrition label.  These labels were first instituted in 1993, to help with issues in the public’s eating habits.  Along with the caloric amounts, these labels also list the serving sizes, as well as an ingredient list for most packaged foods in the United States. While these labels have now been mandatory for over 20 years, very few changes have been made.  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who monitor and control these labels, have proposed a number of updates to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act.  These changes are being made to help consumers make a more informed decision about the foods they eat, in hopes that it will curb chronic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.  The updates that are being made to the nutrition labels will not affect the ‘iconic’ look of the label, but will mean that your customers will have to replace all their labels.  Below is a comparison of the current label, along with the new label including the proposed updates.

The following changes, as stated by the FDA, should be kept in mind when speaking with any customers who work in the food industry:

  • Highlighting the caloric content of foods by increasing the type size and placing in bold type the number of calories and servings per container.
  • Shifting information on Percent Daily Value to the left of the label. The Percent Daily Value is intended to help consumers place nutrient information in the context of a total daily diet.
  • Declaring the actual amount, in addition to Percent Daily Value, of mandatory vitamins and minerals and, when declared, voluntary vitamins and minerals.
  • Changing “Amount Per Serving” to “Amount per ___”, with the blank filled in with the serving size in common household measures (e.g. Amount per 2/3 cup)
  • Replacing the listing of “Total Carbohydrate” with “Total Carbs” and indenting “Added Sugars” directly beneath the listing for “Sugars.”
  • Right-justifying the actual amounts of the serving size information.
  • Removing the existing footnote and using that area to better explain the Percent Daily Value. This part of the nutrition label is often misunderstood by consumers. We will be conducting an experimental study to help determine information that should be in the footnote to increase consumers’ understanding of the Percent Daily Value.

The FDA currently estimates that these changes need to be made to all domestic and imported, packaged goods by January 2018, giving your customers a little over two years to become compliant with these new label requirements. 

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