Washington — For the first time in 20 years, the FDA is proposing major revisions to the Nutrition Facts Panel, including noting added sugars and certain nutrients, removing the “calories from fat” line and stating portion sizes based on actual amounts consumed.
According to the agency, the label changes are needed to more accurately reflect the latest scientific thinking about nutrition and the relationship between what people eat and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Manufacturers would have two years in which to implement the changes.
The proposed rules will be available for public comment for 90 days at fda.gov.
Among the proposed updates, serving size will be based on the amount people actually eat rather than a recommended portion size: because both 12- and 20-ounce bottles of soft drinks normally are consumed in one serving, both will be labeled accordingly. Packages containing multiple servings would have to contain dual-column labels indicating both “per serving” and “per package” calories and nutrition information.
In addition, “servings per container” will be listed above the serving size in a larger, bolder font, and the calories per serving also will be larger and bolder. Daily values for sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D will be updated and “Percent Daily Value” will appear in a two-column format with percentages on the left to “place nutrient information in the context of a total daily diet,” the FDA explains. The new label will declare the actual amount of mandatory vitamins and minerals in addition to the Percent Daily Value.
Added sugars and Percent Daily Values of vitamin D and potassium will be listed, while values of vitamins A and C will be removed, reflecting what the FDA terms “nutrients of public health significance.” Callouts for calcium and iron will remain. In addition, a new, more easily understood footnote reference for daily values and calories is being developed.
NCA Senior Vice-President of Communications and Outreach Susan S. Smith says: “Providing consumers with relevant nutrition information is of the upmost importance to America’s confectioners. The NCA thanks the FDA for the tremendous amount of work that has gone into updating the Nutrition Facts Panel, arguably the American consumer’s best source of information on a product.
“We will be reviewing the proposed rules to determine the impact on confectioners. The NCA supports increased visibility of calories on food labels since calories are the most important factor in weight control; however, we do not support added sugar labeling, as it is not enforceable because there is no analytical test that can distinguish between intrinsic and added sugars. Additionally, moderate amounts of added sugar have never been shown to be associated with increased health risks.”
Smith adds: “With the update of the NFP, America’s confectioners, even the smallest among them, will spend millions of dollars updating and changing labels, so ample time to come into compliance is crucial. We look forward to working with industry and the agency as this rule becomes final.”