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May 20, 2016

3 Min Read
FDA Revamps Nutrition Facts Label
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The US Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule Friday that updates the requirements for nutrition fact labels on food products. Many of the changes are apparently in response to soaring obesity rates in the US and changes in the way that Americans consume food.

Among the changes are a redesign of the label to more prominently feature calories and serving size, new terms for listing serving size, stricter disclosure requirements for “added sugars,” the removal of “calories from fat” data on labels, and others.

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the nutrition facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat, and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., in a statement. “the updated label makes improvements to this valuable resources so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

The rule will now require that serving sizes on nutrition fact labels more accurately reflect the amount of food that people consume. Since the last changes in serving size labeling requirements were issued in 1993, the types and quantities of food the Americans consume has changed, the FDA said.

Sugar content in products is also coming under more scrutiny. The labels must now list the gram count and a percent daily value of “added sugar” in products. The count of “Calories from fat” will be removed altogether, the FDA said, because research indicates that tlisting he type of fat is more important than caloric quantities.

Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D will be updated to current standards, and declarations of vitamin D and potassium will include the actual gram amount. Labels will no longer be required to list quantities of vitamins A and C, said the FDA, “because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare.”

Among the design changes of food nutrition facts labels, the FDA will now require “dual column” labels breaking down nutritional information by serving and also by package for certain multi-serving food products that could be eaten in one or several sittings.

“With dual-column labels available, people 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,” the FDA said, naming a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips as examples.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) expressed praise the FDA’s final rule in a statement, but cautioned that consumers may have a hard time getting used to the changes.

“Because consumers could be confused by the new label with its numerous changes, a robust consumer education effort will be needed to ensure that people continue to understand how the revised label can be used to make informed choices and maintain healthful dietary practices,” said the GMA’s chief science officer, Dr. Leon Bruner, in the statement. “We look forward to working with FDA and other stakeholders on messages and activities to help consumers understand what the new labels mean.”

The FDA said the rule will go into effect on July 26, 2018 for most food manufacturers. Companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales are granted an extra year to comply.

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