- New nutrition facts labels are big win for consumers, public health and bipartisanship
- Study: What kind of impact does food labeling have on consumption?
- Food labels and healthier eating?
- Industry responses and reformulation
- Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health
- Calories & Fat
- Added Sugars
- Serving Size
- Dual Column Labels
- Updated Required Nutrients
- Slight Decrease in Sodium Allowance
- The New Food Label: What RDs Need to Know
- Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label
- Do food and menu nutrition labels influence consumer or industry behavior? – STAT
New nutrition facts labels are big win for consumers, public health and bipartisanship
Do you know what you are eating? If you’ve looked at the back of a food package recently, you may have noticed that the Nutrition Facts label looks different. Calories are bigger and bolder. The serving size is more visible and more accurately reflects the amount people eat.
There is also a new line for added sugars, along with a percent daily value that specifies how much of the day’s added sugar limit is in a serving. This is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helping you to make informed and wise choices for the health of you and your family.
It has been three years since the FDA first announced these updates. As of January 1, 2020, nearly all packaged foods and beverages made by large manufacturers must comply with the new requirements. Smaller companies have an additional year to transition.
The label changes are a win for consumers, a win for public health and even a win for bipartisanship. They were mandated as a result of bipartisan efforts spanning both Democratic and Republican administrations. When bipartisanship works, consumers win.
The updated Nutrition Facts label will make it easier for consumers to make more informed food choices. Surveys show consumers are seeking healthier options and looking to consume less sugar.
The bigger, bolder calorie information on the new label facilitates healthier choices and can help to address the challenge that one in five children and two in five adults are obese, putting them at risk for serious and costly diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
For the first time ever, consumers will be able to distinguish between naturally-occurring sugars and those that are “added” during packaging or processing.
Prior to the label update, it would have been impossible to know the difference in foods yogurt, trail mix or granola bars.
This new knowledge is critical because consuming large amounts of “added” sugars can increase the risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The updated Nutrition Facts label will not only help to prevent disease but also help reduce health care costs. A recent study found that informing consumers of added sugars on the label could eliminate nearly one million cases of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes combined over 20 years.
Additionally, if food companies reduced added sugars in their products in response to the new labeling requirement, up to three million cases could be prevented. Reducing chronic diseases by changing consumer behaviors could also result in $31 billion savings in health care costs over two decades. That’s an average savings of more than $1.
5 billion per year — 30 percent more than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent on preventing costly chronic diseases last fiscal year.
These important changes would not be happening were it not for actions by multiple administrations — a rare display of bipartisanship in an otherwise partisan era.
The Nutrition Facts label was first required to be on food packages by a 1990 law signed by President George H.W. Bush. The requirement took effect in 1994, during the Clinton administration.
Minor changes were made to add trans fat to the label during the George W. Bush administration.
Then, in 2014, the Obama administration proposed overhauling the label to bring it in line with current nutrition science. While these changes were rolled out by former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2016, the Trump administration’s FDA has made implementing the label a priority.
In March 2018, FDA officials announced their Nutrition Innovation Strategy, focused on reducing preventable disease and death caused by poor nutrition.
One of the five key pillars of the strategy is implementing the updated Nutrition Facts label and menu labeling in restaurants and other retailers, another Obama administration policy.
While the Trump administration changed the compliance date to give food companies additional time, the FDA has remained committed to ensuring the updated label appears on food packages and helps people make more informed choices. They are even offering educational resources on how to use the new label and working with other organizations to promote it to consumers.
As we begin the new year and make resolutions regarding our personal health, we have a little more help with a user-friendly Nutrition Facts label on the foods and drinks we enjoy.
We will finally know how much added sugar is included in products, be better able to see the number of calories and have serving sizes that better reflect actual portion sizes.
These new guidelines are essential to tackling the health challenges faced by every American.
When government puts politics aside for the benefit of consumers and public health, everyone wins. Now look at your labels.
Dr. Karen DeSalvo is chief health officer at Google Health. She served as acting assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017 and New Orleans health commissioner from 2011 to 2014. Dr. Andrew C.
von Eschenbach serves as the president of Samaritan Health Initiatives, Inc. He served as FDA commissioner from 2006 to 2009 and director of the National Cancer Institute from 2002 to 2006 in the George W. Bush administration.
They both serve as Bipartisan Policy Center senior fellows.
Study: What kind of impact does food labeling have on consumption?
“Many old and new food policies focus on labeling, whether on food packages or restaurant menus. Remarkably, the effectiveness of these labels, whether for changing consumers' choices or industry product formulations, has not been clear,” senior and corresponding author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School, said.
“Our findings provide new evidence on what might work, and what might not, when implementing food labeling.”
A pooled analysis (published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine) of 60 interventional studies comprised of two million unique observations were reviewed, including consumer reported dietary intakes, purchases, and sales receipts (published between 1990 and 2014).
Across all studies, the average intervention duration was 69.8 weeks (range: 3 days to 9 years), except for laboratory studies, which were typically conducted over one to three sessions.
In 14 studies, food labeling was combined with other components such as education, mass media campaigns, economic incentives, or direct regulation (restrictions, bans, requirements of the contents or availability of certain nutrients or food/beverage items).
In May 2016, the USA FDA announced updates to nutrition facts labeling that included new standards on serving sizes of foods, highlighting calorie counts in larger font, and calling out added sugar content.
The FDA extended the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule, from July 26, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply – until Jan. 1, 2021.
Food labels and healthier eating?
According to researchers, product food labeling – which included standardized provision of nutrition or health information and other health-related claims, icons, symbols, and logos – reduced consumers’ intake of calories by 6.6%, total fat by 10.6%, and other unhealthy food options by 13%.
Labeling also increased consumers’ vegetable consumption by 13.5%, researchers noted.
However, labeling did not significantly impact consumer intakes of other targets such as total carbohydrate, total protein, saturated fat, fruits, whole grains, or other healthy options.
Researchers also examined the effects of label type, placement, and other characteristics. No consistent differential effects were found by label placements (menu, package, other point-of-purchase), label types (e.g., traffic light, nutrient content), type of labeled products, whether labeling was voluntary or mandatory, or several other factors.
The study’s findings suggest that the general presence or absence of information may be more relevant to consumers and industry than the specific type of label.
Industry responses and reformulation
The study also accounted for the impact of food labeling policies on industry responses in the form of product reformulation by food and beverage manufacturers. For example, the mandatory addition of trans fat content on the Nutrition Facts label led some food and beverage manufacturers to reformulate their ingredients.
Reformulation outcomes were evaluated by six studies and researchers found that food labeling policies significantly reduced trans-fat content (-64.3%) and sodium (-8.9%).
No significant effects of labeling were identified for industry formulations of total calories, saturated fat, dietary fiber, other healthy components (e.g., protein and unsaturated fat), or other unhealthy components (e.g. total fat, sugar, and dietary cholesterol), researchers noted.
“For industry responses, it's interesting that the two altered components-trans fat and sodium-are additives,” Mozaffarian added.
“This suggests that industry may be more readily able to alter additives, as opposed to naturally occurring ingredients such as fat or calories, in response to labeling. It will be interesting to see whether this will translate to added sugar, newly added to the Nutrition Facts Panel on food labels in the United States.”
The FDA defines added sugar as “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.”
Learn How the NEW Nutrition Facts Label Can Help You Improve Your Health
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new regulations changing the Nutrition Facts labelexternal icon on packaged foods. This is the first major change to the label since it was introduced in 1994.
The changes are updated science, the most recent dietary recommendationsexternal icon, and input from the public. Using the new label can help you choose foods for a healthy diet. The label will be required on all packaged foods made in the United States and imported from other countries.
The new label is already appearing on packages. Most items will have the new label by January 1, 2021.
Calories & Fat
Larger, darker letters make calories the easiest item to see on the new label. When it comes to health outcomes, the type of fat you eat matters more than the overall amount of fat. For this reason, the label will no longer show the percentage of “calories from fat,” but will show percentages from the unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
In addition to showing total percentage of calories from sugars, labels will show the percentage from added sugars. This will help you choose products that have lower amounts of added sugar for your diet. Less than 10% of your daily calories should be from added sugars.
Did you know that the two main sources of added sugars in the United States are sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks and sweets, which includes candies and desserts? If you tend to eat or drink even one large serving of these foods or beverages per day, then you are ly getting more than the recommended daily limit of added sugar.
Serving sizes on the new label are changing. Twenty years ago, people tended to eat smaller amounts than they do now. The new serving size reflects what people are ly to eat or drink today and not necessarily the portions they should eat.
For example, the serving size of ice cream was ½ cup, but will be ⅔ cup. A 12 ounce or 20 ounce bottle of soda will be labeled as 1 serving, since people are ly to drink either size at one time. This is intended to give people a more realistic view about the number of calories they are consuming.
Dual Column Labels
Some food and drink packages contain more than one serving, but a person may consume the contents of the whole package at one time, for example a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips. Two columns provide calorie and nutrition information for one serving and for the whole package.
Updated Required Nutrients
- Vitamin D and potassium values will now be required on the label.
- Calcium and iron will continue to be required.
- Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
Slight Decrease in Sodium Allowance
The new Nutrition Facts label is on some packaging now, but won’t appear on all food and drink packaging until 2019. Until then, here are a few tips ( the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020external icon) to help you make healthier choices about what you eat and drink.
- Keep your intake of added sugars to less than 10% (e.g., 200 calories if you consume 2,000 calories in a day) of your total daily calories. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit or milk, are not added sugars. If “added sugars” is not yet on the label, use the ingredient list to find added sugars such as brown sugar, maple sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, and molasses.
- Read the Nutrition Facts labels on your packaged food and drinks to keep track of sugars, fats, protein, and other nutrients.
- Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt. In most people’s diets, the majority of salt comes from processed and restaurant foods. Read labels and choose the product with less sodium.
- Drink plain water instead of sugary beverages to reduce the number of calories and added sugar you consume. Read the Nutrition Facts label on a product to see how many calories are in your drink.
- Limit the serving size of the treats you eat. If you are going to have dessert, keep it small. Take the Portion Distortion Quizexternal icon and learn how food portion sizes have changed in 20 years.
- Be sure you know how many servings are in the food you are eating. For example, if you buy what looks an individual sized chicken pie, check the Nutrition Facts label before you assume that the whole pie is one serving. It might actually be two servings. If you eat the whole pie, you will eat twice as many calories, twice as much sodium, and other nutrients listed on the label.
The New Food Label: What RDs Need to Know
By Jessica Levings, MS, RDN
Last week at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the release of the FDA’s final rule on the new Nutrition Facts label, which is used on virtually all packaged foods in the United States.
According to the final rule, “Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels,” most manufacturers have until July 26, 2018, to comply with the changes; manufacturers earning less than $10 million in annual food sales have until July 26, 2019, for compliance.
Soon, dietitians can expect to start seeing the following changes on Nutrition Facts labels in the United States.
New to the Label
For the first time since packaged foods began bearing food labels, “Added Sugars” and % DV for added sugars must be labeled. Added sugars in grams per serving will appear on the label as “Includes XX g Added Sugars” indented directly below “Total Sugars.”
“We applaud the FDA’s efforts to better educate consumers and think this is an important step in providing clearer nutritional guidance to the general public,” says Stephanie Perruzza, MS, RD, CDN, at KIND Snacks.
“An item that we feel is of particular importance is the FDA’s mandate to include added sugar labeling and percent Daily Value for added sugar on the Nutrition Facts Panel.
” The new % DV for added sugars (50 g) reflects the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation of no more than 10% of total daily calories from added sugar.
Amy Loew, MS, RD, senior nutrition scientist at General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, agrees that the changes will help manufacturers more clearly provide product information, but added that time will be needed to fully assess the changes: “FDA’s recent announcement reinforces our longstanding commitment to providing clear nutrition information on our products, and to reducing overall sugar across our portfolio. General Mills has steadily reduced sugar in the food we make in the US for more than 10 years and has made significant strides, especially in yogurt and cereal, while maintaining the great taste that consumers demand. [The] announcement represents the biggest change in the nutrition label in 20 years, and it will take some time to fully assess.”
The FDA also established new DVs for infants through 12 months, children aged 1 to 3, and pregnant and lactating women to use as the basis for the % DV declaration on products marketed specifically to these subpopulations.
For example, for foods such as baby cereal, puffs, purée meals, and other foods marketed to infants and children aged 3 and under, the % DV on labels will reflect nutrient intake recommendations specifically for this age group. Currently, all labeling is intake recommendations for adults and children aged 4 and older.
In addition, vitamin D and potassium are replacing vitamins A and C as nutrients of public health significance and will now be mandatory on all labels. Vitamins A and C are no longer mandatory but can be declared voluntarily.
According to Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, a food and nutrition consultant in Atlanta, “Potassium is really an undervalued nutrient beneficial in helping reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The addition of potassium to the food label will help consumers know how much of this important mineral is in foods, and help to identify foods higher in potassium.”
Modified from the Current Label
Many of the changes simply modify the way existing nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are declared. For example, “Sugars” will now be labeled as “Total Sugars” with “Added Sugars” listed below it.
While calcium and iron will still be required on Nutrition Facts labels, the nutrients of public health significance will be labeled in the following order: vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium, along with the actual gram amount and % DV.
When any other voluntary vitamin and mineral is declared it also must be labeled in actual amounts along with the % DV, instead of the current labeling of only the % DV.
Moreover, there will no longer be a “Calories from Fat” declaration.
“Eliminating ‘Calories from Fat’ listed on the label is a long-awaited victory for the avocado, nut, and seafood industries and consumers a,” says Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN, a Phoenix-based retail health and wellness expert working as a consultant to commodity groups, food companies, and supermarkets.
“For years now, scientific evidence has amassed to support the dietary recommendation that the type of fat, saturated vs polyunsaturated fats, is more important than the total amount of fat when weighing a food’s impact on health and disease prevention.”
Other changes include the declaration of “Servings per container” appearing directly above “Serving size” instead of directly below, and serving sizes are now being labeled in common household measures, such as “1 Cup,” and are right justified.
To leave more space to better explain % DV declarations, FDA is no longer requiring the footnotes describing DVs for certain nutrients for 2,000- and 2,500-kcal diets. Instead, the new footnote will read “*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.
” The font size for “Calories,” “Servings per container,” and “Serving size” will be larger, and the actual number of calories and the serving size declaration will be boldfaced.
Updated Reference Values Used to Determine % DV
The final rule also updates reference values used to determine DVs for several vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients.
Since the implementation of the original food label in 1993, several changes in nutrient recommendations have been released; these had not been reflected on the label, so the new label provides an update of these recommendations.
The footnotes describing the DVs are no longer required on the label, but the % DVs the updated levels will still be listed for nutrients.
New DVs to Be Used as the Basis for % DV Calculations
|Old DV||New DV|
|Nutrient||Adults and Children ≥ 4 years*||Adults and Children ≥ 4 years|
|Saturated fatty acids (g)||20||20|
|Total carbohydrate (g)||300||275|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||25||28|
|Added Sugars (g)||N/A||50|
|Vitamin D (mcg)**||400 IU (10 mcg)||20|
— Source: Adapted from the Food and Drug Administration’s Final Rule “Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels,” pages 903–906, and “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14.
Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients).” *The old DVs were Adults and Children ≥ 4 years old. The FDA’s final rule also set DVs specifically for foods marketed to infants through 12 months, children aged 1 to 3, and pregnant and lactating women.
This means that the food label on foods marketed specifically to children aged 1 to 3, for example, will have % DVs specific to these age groups.
**The old label listed vitamin D in IUs. The new label requires listing vitamins and minerals in micrograms or milligrams.
For vitamin D, IUs still may be voluntarily declared in parentheses behind the microgram amount.
The table above includes changes related to reference values for labeling mandatory nutrients. Moving forward, potassium won’t only appear on the food label, but the DV has increased from 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg. Some reference values related to certain voluntary nutrients also were changed.
For example, the DV for Vitamin K increased from 80 mcg to 120 mcg for adults and children aged 4 and older. Dietitians can find more information in the tables on pages 902 to 906 of the final rule (https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-11867.pdf).
Serving Sizes and Certain Package Sizes
Since the FDA is required by law to base serving size amounts on how much people actually eat, not on what they should be eating, serving sizes for some commonly consumed products have changed. For example, the reference amount for ice cream increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup, and soda increased from 8 to 12 oz. Related package sizes between one and two servings that people typically eat in one sitting, such as a 15-oz can of soup, now will be labeled as one serving. Manufacturers of products such as pints of ice cream that could be consumed in one sitting but are larger than a single serving must now provide “dual column” labels indicating both “per serving” and “per package”/“per unit” amounts of calories and nutrients.
Recommendations and Considerations for Dietitians
According to the FDA, the intention of the food label isn’t to tell people what to eat, but to give them tools to make healthful choices.
The purpose of these changes is to update nutrition information provided on food labels and assist consumers with maintaining healthful dietary practices.
The new food label reflects an opportunity for nutrition professionals to speak with their clients and patients about using and understanding food labels, especially when addressing issues such as obesity and diabetes.
“Dietitians will have an important job in educating the public on the changes to the food label,” Ruhs says.
“These revisions will reduce confusion by offering more relevant nutrition information to help consumers make healthier purchase decisions.
The updated serving sizes will reflect more realistic consumption amounts, and the total calories listed in a larger size may raise awareness and help consumers reduce overconsumption,” Ruhs says.
For consumers seeking to understand the contribution of added sugars to their diets, the addition of added sugars on the label should assist them.
However, it’s important to note that the “Total Sugars” declaration reflects what it says—the total amount of sugar in the product, which includes naturally occurring and added sugars. While the indentation of “Includes Added Sugars” underneath may look an additional sugar declaration, it is not.
While serving sizes and corresponding calorie declarations can help consumers keep track of the amount of calories they eat, they shouldn’t be used as a goal or recommended intake level.
These changes also highlight an opportunity for dietitians to counsel their clients about using the label to reduce intake of certain nutrients of public health concern, such as sodium and added sugars, and increase intake of beneficial minerals such as calcium and potassium.
Finally, dietitians can market their skills to food companies needing help creating the new labels.
They can develop communications and marketing materials about the new label, help companies calculate and display the new changes, and discern whether current nutrient content claims will still be allowable given the new DVs.
For example, products bearing “good” or “excellent source” nutrient content claims for calcium, potassium, and fiber may need to be reassessed since these DVs have increased. The FDA has stated that it will reevaluate regulations related to nutrient content claims in the near future.
The food label in its entirety is a tool all dietitians and consumers can use to purchase and eat more healthful foods. Hopefully the changes will have the intended effect, which is to help consumers maintain healthful dietary practices. By talking with clients and patients about navigating the new food label, dietitians can ensure that they do so.
— Jessica Levings, MS, RDN, is a freelance writer and owns Balanced Pantry, a consulting business helping companies develop and modify food labels, conduct recipe analysis, and create nutrition communications materials. Learn more at www.balancedpantry.com, @balancedpantry, and .com/Balancedpantry1.
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label
1. Why are you changing the Nutrition Facts label?
The current label is more than 20 years old. To make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, FDA is requiring changes updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.
2. What major changes have you made?
The changes include modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updating serving size requirements, and providing a refreshed design. The new Nutrition Facts label makes it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
3. When will I start to see the new label?
Many manufacturers are already using the new label, but they have more time to make the changes. Changes must be made by January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales.
Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have an extra year to comply – until January 1, 2021. Manufacturers of most single-ingredient sugars such as honey and maple syrup and certain cranberry products have until July 1, 2021 to make the changes.
Manufacturers of certain flavored dried cranberries have until July 1, 2020 to make the changes.
4. Why must “added sugars” now be included?
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars. Consuming too much added sugars can make it difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.
The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern.
But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits.
The updates to the label will help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. Consumers may or may not decide to reduce the consumption of certain foods with added sugars, their individual needs or preferences.
Sugars that are added during the processing of foods will have both the percent Daily Value and the number of grams of Added Sugars on their labels.
Single-ingredient sugars such as table sugar, maple syrup, or honey will only have the percent Daily Value for Added Sugars listed on their labels.
See the Nutrition Facts label for honey, maple syrup, or other single-ingredient sugars or syrups as well as for certain cranberry products.
5. Must Added Sugars be declared on packages and containers of single-ingredient sugars and syrups, such as pure honey and maple syrup?
Packages and containers of these products are not required to include a declaration of the number of grams of Added Sugars in a serving of the product but must still include a declaration of the percent Daily Value for Added Sugars.
Manufacturers are encouraged, but not required, to use the “†” symbol immediately following the Added Sugars percent Daily Value on single-ingredient sugars, which would lead to a footnote explaining the amount of added sugars that one serving of the product contributes to the diet as well as the contribution of a serving of the product toward the percent Daily Value for added sugars.
6. What about certain cranberry products that have sugars added for palatability?
The number of grams of Added Sugars in a serving of a cranberry product, as well as the percent Daily Value for Added Sugars, must still be labeled.
FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion for certain cranberry products to allow manufacturers to use a symbol leading to a statement that is truthful and not misleading placed outside the Nutrition Facts label.
These manufacturers could explain, for example, that the sugars added to certain dried cranberries or cranberry beverage products are added to improve the palatability of naturally tart cranberries. See the Nutrition Facts label for honey, maple syrup, or other single-ingredient sugars or syrups as well as for certain cranberry products.
7. How does the FDA define “added sugars”?
The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads. However, although they are still “added sugars,” single-ingredient sugars such as pure honey, maple syrup, and a bag of sugar, have different labeling requirements from other added sugars.
For industry and those interested in the more technical version of the definition, please consult page 33980 of the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule.
8. Are you using the new label to tell people what to eat?
The Nutrition Facts label is designed to provide information that can help consumers make informed choices about the food they purchase and consume. It is up to consumers to decide what is appropriate for them and their families’ needs and preferences.
9. Why is trans fat still on the label if the FDA is phasing it out?
Trans fat will be reduced but not eliminated from foods, so FDA will continue to require it on the label.
In 2015, the FDA published a final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the source of artificial trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe, but this determination would not affect naturally occurring trans fat, which would still exist in the food supply.
Trans fat is present naturally in food from some animals, mainly ruminants such as cows and goats. Also, industry can currently use some oils that are approved as food additives and can still petition FDA for certain uses of PHOs.
10. Why are vitamin D and potassium being added to the Nutrition Facts label?
Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients Americans don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys (http://www.cdc.
gov/nchs/nhanes/), and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and potassium helps to lower blood pressure.
Calcium and iron are already required and will continue to be on the label.
11. Why are you no longer requiring vitamins A and C?
In the early 1990’s, American diets lacked Vitamins A and C, but now Vitamins A and C deficiencies in the general population are rare. Manufacturers are still able to list these vitamins voluntarily.
12. Does the new label look different?
You will still recognize the label, but we have made some improvements to the format to provide significant public health information. Changes include:
- Highlighting “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration by increasing the type size and placing the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration in bold type.
- Requiring manufacturers to declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value, of the mandatory vitamins and minerals.
- Adding “Includes X g Added Sugars” directly beneath the listing for “Total Sugars.” Some sugars such as honey and maple syrup do not have to list the number of grams of added sugars but must still include the %Daily Value.
- Changing the footnote to better explain the percent Daily Value. It will now read: “*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.”
13. I heard that some serving sizes are actually be bigger. That doesn’t seem to make sense with the obesity epidemic.
Some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease because by law, the serving sizes must be the amounts of food and drink that people typically consume, not on how much they should consume. Recent food consumption data show that some serving sizes need to be revised.
For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup and now is changing to â…” cup. The reference amount used to set a serving size of soda was previously 8 ounces and now is changing to 12 ounces. The reference amount for yogurt is decreasing from 8 ounces to 6 ounces.
Nutrient information on the new label will be these updated serving sizes so it matches what people actually consume.
14. How much time will manufacturers have to make these changes?
The FDA extended the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule, from July 26, 2018 to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales.
Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply – until January 1, 2021.
Manufacturers of single-ingredient sugars such as honey and maple syrup and certain cranberry products have until July 1, 2021 to make the changes.
15. Do the new requirements apply to imported food?
Yes, foods imported to the United States will need to meet the final requirements.
Do food and menu nutrition labels influence consumer or industry behavior? – STAT
Walk down the aisles of any grocery or convenience store and pick up a package. Somewhere on it is a food label listing nutrition information.
Labels include the federally mandated Nutrition Facts Label; the simplified front-of-pack Facts Up Front label; the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark; Guiding Stars, developed by the Hannaford grocery chain; and the for-profit and now defunct NuVal tag. Foods can also carry simpler labeling claims such as “fat free” or “low sodium,” or provide total calorie counts.
Such labels don’t come just from the food industry. They also represent a “soft” approach for the government to educate consumers about healthy eating and to shift industry toward making healthier products.
Those goals are important. Diet-related diseases are major contributors to poor health, lost productivity, premature death, and rising health care costs around the world. Cardiovascular disease, a large proportion of which is linked to unhealthful eating, costs the U.S. an estimated $316 billion a year.
Diabetes, another diet-related disease, costs the nation $327 billion. Add up the costs of all obesity-related conditions and it’s a whopping $1.4 trillion a year.
These burdens are overwhelming the pocketbooks of families, private businesses, and governments; undermining military readiness; and contributing to poorer health among lower income Americans.
Although labels have graced food packaging for decades, it’s not entirely clear if they influence consumer choices or food industry practices. To examine their impact, we pooled the findings of 60 studies that included 111 interventions that tested foods with and without labels.
There were 2 million observations of people or their purchases across 11 countries. As we and other colleagues recently reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, food labeling had some effects on consumer choices: They reduced the intake of calories by 6.6 percent, total fat by 10.
6 percent, and other generally unhealthy choices by 13 percent. They also increased vegetable intake by 13.5 percent.
There was little evidence, however, that food labels affected the intake of total carbohydrates, protein, saturated fat, or sodium, nor did they influence consumption of fruits, whole grains, or other healthy options.
When we evaluated the potential for food labels to motivate food companies to make changes to their products, we found that labels reduced the amount of harmful trans fat in food by 64 percent and the amount of sodium by 8 percent. Yet they appeared to have little effect on total calories in food or the amounts of saturated fat, dietary fiber, or other healthy or unhealthy components, although relatively few studies looked at these endpoints.
The bottom line is that food labels appear to work to shift consumer or industry behavior for a few dietary targets, but not for many others.
For consumers, they seem to work best for simpler and widely understood metrics such as calories, total fat, and products labeled as “unhealthy,” but not for more complex and perhaps poorly understood nutrient targets.
Labels also appear to nudge food companies to reduce major industrial additives trans fat and sodium, but do not appear to influence industry formulations for more complex targets such as nutrients that are intrinsically in food, saturated fat or dietary fiber.
Too few studies were available for us to assess the effect of food labels on added sugars, a new addition to the U.S. Nutrition Facts Label.
Of note, while our research shows that food labels can influence some consumer and industry choices, there wasn’t enough evidence for us to evaluate the effects of labels on health outcomes.
For example, food labels may have helped reduce the intake of total fat, but it’s become clear from other research that lowering total fat has little health benefit, especially when consumers cut back on healthy fats and replace them with refined carbohydrates.
Studies that looked at the effect of labels on calorie intake generally assessed only a single meal, and it’s not clear if a 6.
6 percent reduction in calories in one meal will translate into reduced calories over the course of a week, month, or year, and eventually into health outcomes.
That said, if mandatory calorie labeling in restaurants reduced the calorie choices for people across numerous meals in different venues over time, the cumulative effect could be significant. Such long-term effects, however, haven’t been well evaluated.
Efforts to improve and expand food labels around the world are underway. These include visually simple traffic light symbols or even black-box warning labels. Unfortunately, many of these systems cover just a few nutrients, often don’t account for processing, and frequently exclude beneficial factors such as healthy fats, probiotics, or polyphenols.
The NuVal shelf tag, a for-profit health scoring system that at its peak was featured in more than 1,600 grocery stores in 31 states, has been removed from U.S. markets as it was eventually deemed “fatally flawed.” The Choice logo, launched in 2006 in The Netherlands, faced a similar fate: With mounting criticism, the Dutch government ordered it to be replaced by a cellphone app.
In our results, the specific type of food label did not seem to make a big difference on either consumer or industry responses. Perhaps it’s the general presence — or absence — of key information that matters to consumers and industry, rather than fancy designs or scoring.
At the end of the day, food labels may be most useful for generally raising awareness among consumers and the food industry about what nutrients should be measured and highlighted in food. To be effective, this means focusing on the most relevant list of nutrients, obtained from the best modern evidence for effects on health.
Unfortunately, too many labels today focus on outdated targets total fat, total calories, and total saturated fat, rather than more holistic assessments of foods that incorporate healthy components such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, or beans or the extent of processing, giving lower scores for highly refined and rapidly digested foods and higher scores for minimally processed and slowly digested foods.
To solve the nutrition crisis in the U.S. and around the world, we need smarter labels as well as smarter supportive policies that can together make healthy eating the easier, cheaper, more widely available choice.
Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., is a cardiologist and dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Siyi Shangguan, M.D., is an internal medicine attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a former research assistant at the Friedman School.