In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of changes to the current Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The changes reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. In addition, the new label will make it easier for families to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
Highlights of the New Nutrition Facts Label
Increased type size for "Calories," "servings per container," and "Serving size"
Bolded number of calories and the "Serving size"
Changed Daily Value footnote to read: "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."
Reflection of updated information about nutrition science
Included "added sugars" in grams and as % Daily Value on label
Updated list of nutrients required or permitted to be declared on the label
Removed "Calories from Fat" from the label
Updated Daily Values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D
Update to serving sizes and labeling requirements for certain package sizes
By law, serving sizes must now be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size 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.
Packages between one and two servings now require the calories and other nutrients to be labeled as one serving, because people typically consume it in one sitting. Package size affects what people eat.
Manufacturers must provide "dual column" labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a "per serving" and "per package"/"per unit" basis for certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, you will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients you are getting if you eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why must "added sugars" now be included?
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars. See the AAP policy statement, Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools, for more information.
In addition, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugars. On average, Americans get about 13% of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages) and snacks and sweets (including grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings).
The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern. But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits. The updates to the label will help increase awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. You may or may not decide to reduce the consumption of certain foods with added sugars, based on your individual needs or preferences. The final rule requires "Includes X g Added Sugars" to be included under "Total Sugars" to help you understand how much sugar has been added to the product.
Why is trans fat still on the label if the FDA is phasing it out?
Trans fat will be reduced but not eliminated from foods, so FDA will continue to require it on the label. In 2015, the FDA published a final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the source of artificial trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe, but this determination would not affect naturally occurring trans fat, which would still exist in the food supply. Trans fat is present naturally in food from some animals, mainly ruminants such as cows and goats. Also, industry can currently use some oils that are approved as food additives and can still petition FDA for certain uses of PHOs.
Why are vitamin D and potassium being added to the Nutrition Facts label?
Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients Americans don't always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys, and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and potassium helps to lower blood pressure. Calcium and iron are already required and will continue to be on the label.
Why are you no longer requiring vitamins A and C?
In the early 1990's, American diets lacked Vitamins A and C, but now Vitamins A and C deficiencies in the general population are rare. Manufacturers are still able to list these vitamins voluntarily.
How much time will manufacturers have to make these changes?
Manufacturers will have until July 26, 2018 to comply with the final requirements, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.
Will the new requirements apply to imported food?
Yes, foods imported to the United States will need to meet the final requirements.
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