The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s required changes to Nutrition Facts labels — announced
on May 20, 2016 — are based on new research, and they aim to help consumers better understand the nutritional makeup and nutrient quantities of what they’re eating. As such, some label changes involve design and readability, specifically
the size and bolding of certain elements.
The required changes to Nutrition Facts labels take effect Jan. 1, 2021, for food manufacturers with under $10 million in annual sales (and Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more). Bakeries and baked goods manufacturers that haven’t begun redesigning labels should prioritize understanding the changes and begin implementing them. “It takes longer than you expect,” says Melissa Grzybowski, a regulatory and nutrition specialist at Food Consulting Company.
Because the mandates involve new and revised nutritional values and serving sizes, changing labels involves more than slapping a redesigned format on packaging.
“Making label decisions definitely is thinking about your finished product, the servings, the finished serving size, the servings per container and how all of those pieces might change and be affected by the new regulations,” Grzybowski says.
For example, one of the changes involves revising numbers to reflect the entire product contained in the package, not just a recommended serving size. Another important label change impacting bakery businesses: The requirement to include added sugars (more on that below). Grzybowski says addressing the new line and the revised nutrients can be particularly complex challenges.
Other things bakeries and baked goods manufacturers should consider include:
While these changes may seem daunting, bakeries and baked goods manufacturers don’t have to address them alone. By working closely with their suppliers and distributors, they can gain more specific nutritional information on ingredients. In addition,
they can turn to these partners for insights, resources and recommendations to ensure their business is implementing new changes judiciously and cost-effectively.
Below, read more about the specific changes the FDA is mandating.
A sample vertical label format from the FDA. Other formats are available to fit different packaging sizes.
Other changes affect the level of detail required for certain nutrient values. They’re the result of evolved understandings of how fat, sugar and fiber affect health.
With greater recognition that certain types of fat are healthy, the new Nutrition Facts panel will no longer require companies to list total calories from fat.
However, there’s a new line for added sugars below total sugars, which must be listed in both grams and percentage of daily value. The FDA defines added sugars as those from sugar, syrups, honey and fruit and vegetable juices that are added during food processing.
In addition, the definition of what can be declared dietary fiber has changed to refer to naturally occurring fiber in plants and certain added isolated or synthetic non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates. See the FDA Q&A for detailed information.
Labels will no longer have to include vitamins A and C, but they will have to list vitamin D and potassium. This change is the result of research showing few Americans are deficient in vitamins A and C, but many need more vitamin D and potassium.
Along with listing the percentage of daily value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium the product contains, bakeries and baked goods manufacturers must include the actual amount.
In addition, daily values for nutrients have changed, and the wording explaining daily values has shifted to:
*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.
Research has found consumers typically eat more of a product than the suggested serving size on current labels. To paint a more accurate picture of what consumers are eating, the FDA is requiring Nutrition Facts quantities reflect more realistic portion
sizes. The organization provides serving size information as “reference amount” at “Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods that Can Reasonably Be Consumed at One Eating Occasion.”
For products bigger than the updated reference amounts, companies must include the nutritional values based on the total product, as research has found people often eat an entire package of food in one sitting (rather than portioning it out based
on recommended serving sizes).
Packages containing between two and three servings must have dual labels. One column provides nutrition information for one serving size and one column lists nutrition information for the container.
Sample dual label from the FDA
For more details about required label changes, see the FDA’s “Industry Resources on the Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.”