NCA is dedicated to ensuring that its members and the confectionery industry are aware of labeling requirements mandated by the Food & Drug Administration. Following federal and state labeling regulations is essential the food industry to ensure the health and safety of consumers. NCA monitors all FDA rules and regulations that pertain to labeling requirements for the confectionery industry.
In the near future NCA expects FDA to release final rules on vending labeling and menu labeling which will mandate how calories are displayed in vending machines and on menu boards. Additionally, FDA has announced that it plans to update and possibly change the format of the Nutrition Facts panel, which has not been revamped since its creation in the early 1990s. Aside from FDA initiatives, NCA has launched a front-of-pack calorie labeling system specific to the confectionery industry to help consumers understand what is in their favorite treats. Lastly, NCA has seen intense interest in the area of genetically engineered food labeling at the state-level with more than 25 state legislatures considering GE labeling bills.
A proposed rule, mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and released in Spring 2011, will require calorie labeling for foods sold in vending machines where operators have more than 20 machines. The calorie labeling must be visible to the consumer before purchase. NCA submitted comments to FDA requesting flexibility for the style of calorie declaration. Once finalized, NCA will conduct outreach to the confectionery industry explaining the regulation.
The Act also requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards.
In February 2013 NCA launched Treat Right, a confectionery specific, calorie-only front-of-package labeling system. Over the last year NCA has engaged with the confectionery and food industry as the program is implemented and in 2014 will focus on informing the public and consumers about the new icons.
Resource: Front-of-Pack Labeling Initiative
The Nutrition Facts panel will be overhauled this year with the FDA focused on making the NFP more consumer friendly. FDA’s goal is for the information be both clear and useful to consumers. FDA has proposed two rules: the first focuses on "reference amounts customarily consumed" and serving sizes, and the second focuses on the design of and content display in the Nutrition Facts panel table.
For the RACC and serving size changes, FDA is “amending the definition of single-serving containers; amending the definition of serving size for breath mints; and providing for dual-column labeling, which would provide nutrition information per serving and per container, for certain containers.”
For the NFP table, FDA will modernize the nutrition information found on the Nutrition Facts label, as well as the format and appearance of the label.
Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of lawsuits targeting food companies that make claims to be "natural". FDA recently rejected a request by three judges to define the term “natural”. The judges are presiding over cases brought against food companies for using the “natural” claim when the consumer believes there are ingredients that would not fall into that category. This has some implications for the confectionery industry if confections are labeled "natural" or if they contain "natural" ingredients.
FDA has received multiple citizen petitions requesting that food manufacturers be required to label the presence of genetically-engineered ingredients on food and beverage packaging. FDA has a 2001 guidance on labeling for the presence or absence of genetically engineered ingredients. FDA is expected to update this guidance sometime in the near future. NCA will continue to monitor this issue and the potential effects it may have on the confectionery industry.