On Sept. 29, FDA issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance dates for the updated Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply—until Jan. 1, 2021.
Foods imported to the United States also will need to meet the final requirements. The updated regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
In May 2016, FDA unveiled 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. (Click here for a side-by-side comparison of the original label and the updated version). On June 13, 2017, FDA extended the compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts label; however, the agency did not give new dates for compliance, but stated the “extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace."
In 2014, FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor estimated the cost to industry at around $2 billion, although he said the regulations are projected to yield $20 billion to $30 billion in economic benefits. FDA estimated the sweeping proposal would impact roughly 60,000 manufacturers and more than 700,000 Universal Product Codes, representing approximately $236.78 billion in sales in grocery stores, drug stores and mass merchandise stores.
The sweeping overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label is the first in 20 years and includes a modified list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updated serving size requirements, as well as an updated, easy-to-read design. (Click here to listen to Healthy INSIDER Podcast 19: Understanding the Updated Nutrition Facts Label).
Changes to the Nutrition Facts label include:
- 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, consumers 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 between 1 and 2 servings, such as a 20-ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as 1 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.
- FDA also is making minor changes to the Supplement Facts label found on dietary supplements to make it consistent with the Nutrition Facts label.