If you manufacture food products, you understand the need for Nutrition Facts labels that follow updated dietary and science recommendations. The label helps consumers to make informed choices regarding healthy diet. Its always recommended to hire a qualified expert consultant to help you navigate the regulations of food labeling. One wrong word can mean you must recall all the food and relabel it. FDA labeling isn’t something to DIY. This article is meant to be a brief overview of some of the labeling requirements you need to keep in-mind.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods to reflect current scientific information, including the connection between diet and chronic diseases like heart diseases and obesity. This was the first significant nutritional label update in over two decades according to the FDA (current as of 02/10/2021).
The regulators required manufacturers whose annual sales are $10 million or more to update their labels by January 1, 2020. Those whose yearly food sales fall below $10 million were required to update the labels by January 1, 2021. So, what changed?
Format and Font Requirements
While the label still maintains its iconic design, the FDA updated it to help consumers to access vital information at a glance. That way, they can make quick and informed nutritional decisions. Some of the changes include the type and size of fonts for ‘serving size,’ ‘calories,’ and ‘servings per container.’
In addition to listing the % DV (Daily Value) of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, and Potassium, the manufacturer needs to declare the actual amount of these nutrients. They can reveal other nutrients and minerals’ gram amounts voluntarily.
Here are more specific requirements when formatting the label:
- The heading Nutrition Facts must be Fanklin Gotchic Heavy or Helvetica Black, flush left and flush right, no smaller than 13 point
- Serving size must be Helvetica Regular 8 point with 1 point of leading
- % Daily Value must be 6 points, Helvetica Black
- Total fat must be 8 points Helvetica black with 4 points of leading
- The vitamins and minerals section must be 8 points Helvetica Regular, 4 points of leading with 10 point bullets
- Type below vitamins and minerals is 6 point with 1 point of leading
- All labels enclosed by ½ point box rule within 3 points of text measure
- Requirements for lines have also changed
In 2018, FDA announced the Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which sets a strategic course for taking action to reduce preventable death and disease related to poor nutrition. From: https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/new-nutrition-facts-label current as of 06/29/2020
Serving Sizes are now larger and bold
The serving size details per container have now gotten real, appearing in large and bold fonts. According to FDA, they must be Helvetica Regular 8 points with 1 point of leading. The updates on the serving sizes also reflect the amount of food and drinks consumption today.
Since the initial Nutrition Facts label’s birth, the term ‘serving’ has changed for some foods over time. While the Nutrition Facts label usually lists information based on one serving, some manufacturers may display the details per package. And one package may have more than one serving.
Packages’ serving sizes requirements:
The size of the package affects the nutritional intake. So if the container has one or two servings (like 20-ounce soda), the manufacturer must list the calories and other nutrients as one serving since consumers typically eat or drink them in one sitting.
Are you manufacturing larger products (with more than one serving) that a person can consume in one or multiple sittings? In this case, you’ll need to display ‘dual column’ labels that show how many calories and nutrients are there based on both ‘per serving’ and ‘per package (unit).’ Good examples include a pint of ice cream or 20-ounce soda. These dual column labels allow consumers to quickly understand the quantity of nutrients and calories they consume from the whole unit in one sitting.
Calories got Bigger
Calories are also larger and bolder, so consumers no longer have to squint their eyes to find the information. While the 2,000 calories a day is now the general nutrition guide, the exact calorie needs vary depending on every consumer’s weight, age, height, sex, and physical activity.
The Percentage Daily Value (% DV) Lows and Highs
The % DV displays the amount that a nutrient in a serving contributes to a total daily diet. Due to the updates, the item can be lower or higher on the new label. But here’s a general guide:
- Low nutrient per serving: 5% DV or less
- High nutrient per serving: 20% DV or more
Added Sugars, Vitamin D, and Potassium are Included
Added sugars are a new item on the label since consuming too much of these nutrients can hinder your body from meeting nutritional demands while maintaining calorie limits. These sugars include sugars that manufacturers add during food processing (think dextrose and sucrose), processed sweeteners (like the table sugar), sugars from honey and syrup, and those from concentrated vegetable or fruit juices. For single-ingredient sugars, the labeling requirements are different.
Vitamin D and Potassium are other new entrants required to be listed since these nutrients’ intake among Americans mostly fall below the recommended amounts. The listing of Calcium and Iron didn’t change because of the same reason.
Some Details are no Longer Necessary
The updated Nutritional Fact label no longer requires some information. You may ask, which are these details and why have they been erased?
FDA has removed the requirement of listing calories from fat and continued to require total fat, trans-fat, and saturated fat. Why? According to studies, the type of consumed fat carries more importance than its amount.
They’ve also gotten rid of vitamin A and C- rarely do people experience deficiencies of these nutrients nowadays. But food companies can choose to include them voluntarily.
The updated label can help consumers stay within their dietary needs’ limits successfully. They can now choose products with more of the nutrients they need and less of those they may want to cut down. More often, they will consider foods that are rich in dietary fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D and lower in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat.
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