On May 27, 2016, the FDA published final rules on 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 makes it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices and is already appearing on packages. Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales were required to switch to the new label by January 1, 2020; manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021 to comply. The FDA plans to work cooperatively with manufacturers to meet the new Nutrition Facts label requirements. Manufacturers of most single-ingredient sugars such as honey and maple syrup and certain cranberry products have until July 1, 2021 to make the changes. Manufacturers of certain flavored dried cranberries have until July 1, 2020 to make the changes.
Highlights of the Changes to the Label
- The “iconic” look of the label remains, but we made important updates to ensure consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. These changes include increasing the type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration, and bolding the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration to highlight this information.
- Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals.
- The footnote now better explains what percent Daily Value means. It reads: “*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.”
- “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, must be included on the label. There are different labeling requirements for single-ingredient sugars.
- The list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared is being updated. Vitamin D and potassium are required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C are no longer 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” was removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D have been updated based on newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and other reports such as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, which was used in developing 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 percent Daily Value (% DV) that manufacturers include on the label. The %DV helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
- 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 ice cream was previously 1/2 cup but is now 2/3 cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda changed 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 are 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 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 can more easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.