The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information.
According to FDA, the new and improved label format will include such things as:
the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The proposed label also would replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with how much people really eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.
FDA is seeking greater transparency for consumers. The Press Release even quotes the First Lady to make the point.
The Nutrition Facts panels on a food is different than the labeling on a dietary supplement, so if you are manufacturing dietary supplements, you need to mindful of the dietary supplement labeling regulations, which provide in micro-detail the specifications necessary for the Supplement Facts panel. As well, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) allows structure/function claims for dietary supplements, but provides that if a therapeutic claim is made (i.e., to diagnose and treat disease), then the dietary supplement is essentially regulated like a drug, not a food. So claims as well as labeling specs are different for dietary supplements.
Some of the changes to the label the FDA proposes would, according to FDA:
- Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
- Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.
- Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
- Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
- Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
- While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.
FDA adds that the proposed updates reflect new dietary recommendations, consensus reports, and national survey data, such as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrient intake recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The changes proposed affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The FDA is also proposing to make corresponding updates to the Supplement Facts label on dietary supplements where applicable.
The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.
The new format, which is shown in FDA’s press release, reflects a clearer, crisper design, in addition to adding valuable information. Except dietary supplement labeling changes to follow soon.
And remember that mislabeling your food or dietary supplement product can constitute misbranding. To seek legal counsel regarding labeling and claims, contact our FDA legal team.