Added Sugars are in. Calories From Fat are out. And would the typical American eat the package of food in one sitting? If so, those Americans will now know from the label what they will consume in that sitting.

On May 20, 2016, the FDA finalized a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods that incorporates recent scientific information with the aim of helping consumers make better informed food choices.   It is based upon the proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label that were recommended in 2014 by First Lady Michelle Obama and then-FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.  These labeling changes are part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign.

The FDA has made clear that it based its changes to the Nutrition Facts label on new scientific information, updated nutrition and public health research, recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and public input.  Critics argue, however, that the changes are not based on science and will cause companies to incur unnecessary costs.

The rule affects domestic food manufacturers and imported food manufacturers. Manufacturers have two years to comply with the final requirements.  Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make changes to their Nutrition Facts labels.  Food manufacturers should begin preparing to make the required changes to their food packaging to avoid any non-compliance with the rule.  Key changes to the Nutrition Facts label include:

  • Manufacturers must declare the actual amount and the percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. Manufacturers can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals.
  • The definition of Daily Value on the food labels is changed to “ *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.”
  • Daily values for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will be updated based on 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.
  • “Added sugars” must be disclosed on the label in both grams and as percent Daily Value in an effort to help consumers meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.
  • The “Calories from Fat” section will no longer be required.
  • The serving size is going to be updated based on what people are actually consuming in a typical serving. This amount has changed since the original requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
  • For food packages that are between one and two servings and that are typically consumed in one sitting, the calories and nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving.
  • For products that are not typically consumed in one sitting, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels that indicate the amount of calories and nutrients consumed per serving as well as per package. For example, a 24-ounce bottle of soda would need dual-column labels.

In addition to the substantive changes noted above, there are formatting changes that will be required for the labels such as larger size font for the total calories and serving size sections. An example of an updated Nutrition Facts label can be viewed on the FDA’s Labeling & Nutrition guidance page.