Knowledge can nourish both your body and your mind.

That’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to empower consumers with more information to make it easier to know exactly what you’re consuming.

On January 1, 2020, the FDA’s new nutritional labeling regulation came into effect. The new rules will help consumers make more informed food and beverage choices by supporting retail transparency and consumer health and wellness by adding more detailed product information.1 Nutrition Education Resources & Materials. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. January 13, 2020. 2Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.September 13, 2019.

The FDA updated the Nutrition Facts label regulations, which changes how manufacturers are required to label all packaged food and beverage products made in the United States and imported to the U.S. from foreign countries. Smaller manufacturers have until 2021 to comply with these new rules.

These changes reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease, up-to-date dietary recommendations, and public input.3 Ibid.

Nutrition Facts label timeline

  • 1994: Nutrition Facts label introduced for packaged foods
  • 2016: FDA announced new updates to the Nutrition Facts label 
  • 2020: Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales must use the new label 
  • 2021: Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales must use the new label4 Nutrition Education Resources & Materials. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. January 13, 2020. 

What’s changing in 2020?

Here are several ways the Nutrition Facts label will evolve this year, which suppliers need to know when creating their product labels (and which retail buyers expect from suppliers who seek to bring their products into retail stores): 

  • Calories: Larger, darker letters make calories the easiest item to see on the new label. 
  • Fat: The new label will no longer show the percentage of calories from fat. Instead, it shows percentages from the unhealthy types of fat, saturated and trans fats, because the type of fat we eat matters more than the overall amount of fat to support healthy habits.5 Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.September 13, 2019.
  • Added Sugars: Beyond showing the total percentage of calories derived from sugars, the new CPG labels will show the percentage from added sugars. Experts recommend that less than 10% of our daily calories come from added sugars.6Ibid
  • Serving Size: The new serving size reflects what people are likely to eat or drink today, rather than the portions that nutritionists recommend per serving, to provide a more realistic view of the number of calories we consume.
  • Calories: Larger, darker letters make calories the easiest item to see on the new label. 
  • Fat: The new label will no longer show the percentage of calories from fat. Instead, it shows percentages from the unhealthy types of fat, saturated and trans fats, because the type of fat we eat matters more than the overall amount of fat to support healthy habits.
  • Dual Column Labels: When food or drink packages contain more than one serving, there is a chance a consumer may eat the whole package in one sitting. Now, a new two-column label ensures consumers know the calorie and nutrition information for one serving, as well as for the entire package. The requirements also apply to products in individual units like slices of bread and muffins. Exceptions apply for products in packages constrained by limited space, like raw fruits, vegetables and seafood.7 Wiley, Carol. FDA Final Guidance Clarifies New Nutrition Label Requirements. Food Industry Executive. January 7, 2020. 
  • Required Nutrients Data: Vitamin D and potassium values will now be required on the label. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but manufacturers can include them on a voluntary basis.8 Friedman, Megan. The Nutrition Label On Your Food Is About To Look Different. Delish.October 25, 2018.
  • Sodium: The daily limit for sodium will decrease slightly from 2,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day, which reflects experts’ dietary guidelines.9 Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.September 13, 2019. 10 Friedman, Megan. The Nutrition Label On Your Food Is About To Look Different. Delish.October 25, 2018. 

Beyond the grocery channel, these rules can apply to health and beauty products, like skin supplements, and home care products, like meal replacements. 11 Buscemi, Jolene. Do Skin Supplements Really Work? Here’s What Dermatologists Say. Huffington Post. January 16, 2020.

Implementation benefits and resources

The FDA is collaborating with CPG manufacturers for a smooth transition to help companies adapt to the new nutritional product information to support healthy choices. The agency noted that for the first six months of 2020, it will not focus on enforcing the label requirements.12 Wiley, Carol. FDA Final Guidance Clarifies New Nutrition Label Requirements. Food Industry Executive. January 7, 2020. To help CPG suppliers, comply with these new Nutrition Facts regulations, the FDA released a final guidance document.13 Wiley, Carol. FDA Final Guidance Clarifies New Nutrition Label Requirements. Food Industry Executive. January 7, 2020.

In the meantime, these nutrition labels could spark innovation among CPG manufacturers and retailers with private label lines to adjust existing recipes or create new products to improve the nutritional quality of their product assortment.14 Schumaker, Erin. New FDA labels include nutrition info for eating that whole bag of chips or pint of ice cream. ABC News. January 1, 2020.

Have you noticed the new Nutrition Facts label in stores? If so, has it persuaded your product choices?

Need help with labels? Discover service providers who are ready to help.

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1, 4.  Nutrition Education Resources & Materials. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. January 13, 2020.
2. Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.September 13, 2019.
3.  Ibid.
5, 9.  Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.September 13, 2019.
6. Ibid
7, 12, 13.  Wiley, Carol. FDA Final Guidance Clarifies New Nutrition Label Requirements. Food Industry Executive. January 7, 2020.
8, 10.  Friedman, Megan. The Nutrition Label On Your Food Is About To Look Different. Delish.October 25, 2018.
11.  Buscemi, Jolene. Do Skin Supplements Really Work? Here’s What Dermatologists Say. Huffington Post. January 16, 2020.
14.  Schumaker, Erin. New FDA labels include nutrition info for eating that whole bag of chips or pint of ice cream. ABC News. January 1, 2020.

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