Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Nutrition Facts Labels: here's the facts

Another day, another regulation.  But this time the changes are not targeted at restaurants, but instead at food manufacturers.  Here at FoodCalc we have been busy reading up on the regulations to understand the who? the what? and most importantly: the when? 

For the first time in 20 years, the Nutrition Facts Label will be getting a makeover! Is this the black swan we've all been waiting for?    

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to amend the current Nutrition Facts 
Label.  There are many changes to this proposed format, but the most important are: 
  1. Define a single-serving container.
  2. Dual-column labeling on certain products.
  3. Increase font size for the Calorie nutrient. 
  4. Actual amount of Calories. 
  5. And 'Servings per Container.' 
Package Size:
FDA is also proposing to change the criteria for labeling based on package size.  With the new requirements, more food products previously labeled as more than one serving would now be required to be labeled as just one serving because people are more likely to eat or drink them in one sitting. Examples include a 20-ounce can of soda, and a 15-ounce can of soup. 

To eliminate confusion, certain larger packages that may be consumed in one sitting or more than one sitting, must be labeled both per serving and per package in the proposed update.  Some examples would be: a 24-ounce bottle of soda, a 19-ounce can of soup and a pint of ice cream. Currently, manufacturers are only required to provide the calorie and nutrient information per serving.
This dual column format—per serving and per package—would be required if a package contains at least two times the serving size and less than or equal to four times the serving size.

Proposed Effective Date:
The proposed effective date is set currently at 60 days after the date of the final rule's publication in the Federal Register with a compliance date of 2 years after that effective date.

So while you may want to run out and pull your products off the shelf or cover-up your Nutrition Facts, not so snappy.  We still have 90 days for public comment to finish, then another period of time for the FDA to reflect and respond, and then we have another 2 years for the effective date.  

So for now it's labels-as-usual.  And for any clients reading, don't worry we'll update your LabelCalc account with the new formats. 

What do you think?  Are these changes a long-awaited move from the FDA good or bad?  

For more details, here's the Federal Register.