Nutrition Facts Panel Changes Summarized

Staff Report

In mid-2016, FDA issued final rules for new Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Labels and Serving Sizes. In response to the industry needing more time to meet the new requirements, FDA extended the original compliance deadlines, providing manufactures more time to comply:

  • Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales now have until Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Manufacturers with less than $10 million, until Jan. 1, 2021.

The nutritional requirements are based on the total daily diet of Americans. Updated serving sizes better reflect current consumer consumption trends. In the 20+ years since the last update, there was a great deal of improved science on which to base the requirements – and increased health issues among Americans, such as diabetes and obesity.

The major areas of change with the nutrition facts panel and labeling rules include:

  • Mandatory declaration of “added sugars” in addition to the natural sugars of the food. This is intended to provide consumers with additional information and potentially limit overall sugar intake. It should be noted that the National Honey Packers and Dealers Association, a section of AFI, was instrumental in getting FDA to announce it will use enforcement discretion and not enforce the added sugars requirement on single-ingredient packages of honey and maple syrup. In other words, a jar of honey, which the regulations say would have to be labeled as 100-percent added sugars, will not need to be labeled in that fashion.
  • Highlighting of calories and servings by requiring these declarations be in bold type and larger lettering. The goal is to address obesity and other health issues.
  • Updating of some daily values to reflect current scientific understanding. For example, total fats have been increased in recognition that not all fats are bad.
  • Required nutrient declarations. Two of note are potassium and Vitamin D, which are newly required to be declared because they have been found to be lacking in the diets of the U.S. population. Vitamin A and C, however, no longer need to be declared but can be included voluntarily.
  • Clarification on Trans Fat. Partially hydrogenated oils are no longer deemed Generally Recognized As Safe, so can no longer be used in food. The deadline for use was June 2018, although product made prior to that can still be on store shelves.
  • Dietary Fiber. Any fiber must have a physiological benefit to human health to be declared as dietary fiber.
  • Records requirements – Records must be maintained for the justification of any declarations on sugars and dietary fibers.
  • Serving Size. FDA adjusted the Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed for about 30 foods and added about 25 new ones. As such, label declarations must be made in accordance with these as a single serving; that is, the amount customarily consumed in one sitting. For example, serving sizes for ice cream have increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup; yogurt decreased from 8 ounces to 6 ounces; and beverages increased from 8 ounces to 12 ounces (to reflect a typical can serving).

When declaring serving size, products that contain less than 200 percent of the RACC must be labeled as a single serving because they could and are commonly eaten in one sitting. If the packaging contains 200 percent to 300 percent of RACC, dual labeling is required – with full-package information along with single-serving information. Dual columns are voluntary when the package contains more than 150 percent but less than 200 percent of RACC.

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