The consumers’ needs changed, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded. With advances in food and nutrition studies came changes in health food fads. Gone are the days of worrying about fat intake, but calories and sugars are still at the top of all healthy eaters’ lists of things to monitor.
The current nutrition label is more than 20 years old, and a lot has changed since then, and we want to ensure you’re prepared for what’s to come.
The requirements for nutrition labels recently changed to better fit the modern day consumer’s needs. Effective January 1, 2020, these are the updates you can expect.1
Serving Sizes Will be More Prominent
Serving sizes will have a bolder and bigger typeface. This will allow consumers easier access to the context of the rest of the nutrition label. Additionally, serving sizes must be updated to better align with the amount typically consumed in one sitting, making the nutrition facts more relevant and understandable to consumers. For example, ice cream will transition from one-half cup serving sizes to two-thirds of a cup.
Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes for just a moment. How many times have you, as a consumer, checked a nutrition label and thought, “Awesome! This bag of chips is only 100 calories!” but then, after eating a giant bowl of chips while watching a football game, you realized that a serving size is only four chips? The FDA’s new regulations will reduce this all-too-common occurrence for consumers, allowing them to snack away … responsibly.
‘Servings Per Container’ Will be Modified
Servings for the container will also have a larger and bolder typeface to make it easier to find for consumers. Like serving sizes, there will also be regulations about the size of packaging, regarding foods easily and commonly finished in one sitting.
Whether or not you claim “sugar-free” on your label, it will be required to include “added sugar” in grams and percent daily value (%DV) on your nutrition label.
For example, 12-ounce and 20-ounce bottles of soda are both easily finished in one sitting, but the 20-ounce bottle has historically been larger than one serving. With the FDA’s new rules, both bottles will be listed as one serving to more accurately portray the nutrition facts per size.
‘Calories’ Will be Bolder
Calories, being one of the most important nutrients for U.S. consumers to consider, will still be located right at the top of nutrition labels. Similar to serving sizes and servings per container, it will also be bolder and appear in a larger typeface so it’s easier to pinpoint for consumers at a quick glance.
No More ‘Calories from Fat’
“Calories from fat” is no longer required on nutrition labels. Gone are the days of misconceptions about eating fat. Previously, it was understood that eating all fat would cause you to gain weight or plaque to build up in your arteries.
Recent studies are showing that the type of fat one consumes is much more important to overall health than the amount. Unsaturated fats, or “healthy fats,” are much better for the human body than saturated or trans fats, so whether your calories are coming from fat or not is no longer a zero-sum game.
‘Added Sugars’ Will be Required
Whether or not you claim “sugar-free” on your label, it will be required to include “added sugar” in grams and percent daily value (%DV) on your nutrition label. This includes sugars added during the processing or packaging process. This will help consumers distinguish whether the sugars are naturally occurring (i.e., from fruit used as an ingredient) or if it’s an additional ingredient.
The FDA made this distinction because studies are showing that it’s difficult to stay within calorie limits when consuming more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars.
Changes to Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin requirements are also changing with the new regulation. This change comes as a response to studies on modern health. Vitamin A and vitamin C will no longer be required on nutrition labels because, nowadays, Americans rarely have deficiencies in these vitamins.
However, vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron will take the place of vitamin A and vitamin C on the ‘required’ list, due to the commonality of deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are also required to be listed in percent daily value (%DV) and micrograms or milligrams to better illustrate their nutritional value.
Updates to the ‘% Daily Value’ Footnote
Nutrition labels have historically included footnotes at the bottom, explaining what was meant by percent daily value. The language of the footnote at the bottom of the nutrition label is being updated to illustrate and explain the meaning of %DV more clearly.
By 2020, the footnote must read, “The % Daily Value (DV) 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.”
These requirements will take effect on the first day of 2020, and when they do, the average consumer will be one step closer to achieving a healthier lifestyle. These nutrition label changes come as a response to updated scientific research, but also to the wants, needs, and habits of the modern day consumer.
Updating packaging is going to be a long, drawn-out process for most food manufacturers, which is why the FDA is providing plenty of advance warning. Planning, researching, and preparing today will help you better protect your consumers and be ahead of the curve in terms of FDA compliance.
If you’re looking to compare these changes to what’s required and what’s optional on nutrition labels, our recent blog post can answer all your questions.