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April 28, 2014

Proposed Changes To US Nutrition Labels

Image_NutritionAs you may have heard, the FDA released a proposal in March suggesting changes to the design of nutrition labels found on food products in the US.  Since the talk of changes of any kind tend to make people nervous, let’s spend a moment addresses some of the main questions food entrepreneurs have about these changes.Do I need to change my labels?

Currently no, the proposal is under a 90-day review period and if passed it won’t become law until Spring 2014 and there will be a two year grace period for businesses to ensure their labels meet the new regulations.  This means that you won’t need to make any changes to your labels until Spring 2016.

What do these proposed changes look like?

The FDA is interested in placing increased emphasis on calorie counts and serving sizes.  As you can see below, the redesign aims to make nutritional labels clearer for people to understanding.  The serving size adjustments are meant to better reflect the portion sizes that people eat today versus when the serving sizes were outlined 20 years ago.

nutrition label change

Existing nutrition label design (provided by fda.gov)

FDA nutrition label new

Proposed Nutrition Label (provided by fda.gov)

 

Can you explain  more about the serving size changes in these proposed labels?

The law mandates that your serving size has to reflect how much someone would realistically eat of your product in one serving.  The FDA created this infographic that shows how average serving sizes have changed in the last 20 years.  With this proposed label redesign, manufacturers would be asked to re-evaluate their packaging sizes against today’s realistic servings and make sure that their nutritional labels reflect this new reality.

food serving sizes FDA

Image provided by FDA.gov website

 

Why is the FDA proposing these changes?

The labels that we’re all currently familiar with were initially rolled out 20 years ago.  Since then science has changed and we’ve learned things like, ‘calories from fat’ – which is currently highlighted on the existing labels, is not as important as the type of fat so in the new label the ‘calories from fat’ will be removed.  Other adjustments such as showing added sugars are aimed to help people make smarter decisions about what they’re eating by having a clearer picture of what exactly is in their food.

Can I get these new labels now?

Since the proposed changes are not yet finalized, it’s not possible to get the new labels.  As soon as the FDA releases its final ruling and provides guidelines we will be able to move forward with the new label design.  Again, remember that if you currently have nutritional labels you have until Spring 2016 before you need to make any changes to your packaging.  This gives you ample time to not only reflect on changes to your nutritional labels but how you might want to make adjustments to your overall packaging design as well.

For more information on the FDA’s proposed changes, you can visit the FDA.gov website by clicking here.

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