Manufacturers of packaged foods have less than two years to comply with the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nutrition and supplement facts labels.
The required changes, aimed to help consumers make healthier food choices, were announced in May 2016. Any company that achieves more than $10 million in food sales each year must have the new labels on all packaging by July 26, 2018. Smaller companies will have an extra year to comply.
Companies that use packaging services and shipping fulfillment services should start working with these partners as soon as possible to ensure compliance well within the deadline date.
Packaging Label Requirements
Highlights of the new packaging label requirements include:
- Information about serving sizes that gives guidance on what would “reasonably” be eaten at one sitting. Some volumes have increased (including ice cream and soda), even though recommended sugar intake has decreased.
- Details of the actual amount and daily value percentage of vitamin D, potassium, iron and calcium. Other mineral and vitamin information, including vitamins A and C is voluntary. Daily values of certain nutrients, specifically sodium and dietary fiber must also be given to show minimum and maximum amounts.
- Details of added sugar in grams as well as a daily value percentage must be specified to help consumers reduce sugar intake.
- Recognizing that the type of fat consumed is more important than amount, “calories from fat” will be removed, but “total fat”, “trans fat”, and “total fat” must still be reflected.
Companies that offer third party shipping fulfillment services offer a range of services, including an end-to-end solution. In the latter instance, they will handle all aspects of packaging services, from warehousing and packing, to shipping, payment and returns. They would also do inventory so that the business owners know when to manufacture or reorder stock. Labeling is, of course, a vital element of any packaging services, so the new label law will impact on the industry as a whole.
Ultimately, says the FDA, the new nutrition facts labels for packaging have been designed to give consumers the information they need to make “informed choices” about food they buy and then eat or drink.
Serving Sizes to be Specified on Packaging Labels
The new label law for food packaging states that serving sizes should be based on what people are consuming and not what they ought to be eating. So clearly the law wasn’t promulgated with health priorities first. Nevertheless, whatever your personal beliefs, the label on your packaged food products must reflect the new FDA guidelines.
Three examples cited on the FDA website relate to servings of:
- Ice cream that was previously half a cup and has now increased to two-thirds of a cup
- Soda which was previously set at eight ounces for a single serving but has not changed to 12 ounces
- Yogurt which has decreased from 8 ounces for a serving to six ounces
There is no justification given for these changes, though the FDA states that they relied on evidence from the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) and various reports, including the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. The latter was also used to develop the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Daily Values of Some Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients to Be Shown
Daily values of specified vitamins (specifically D), minerals (potassium), and nutrients (dietary fiber and sodium) required are also based on IOM data and the dietary guidelines report.
Vitamin D, which is vital for bone health, and potassium, a mineral that helps lower blood pressure, have been added to label information because US consumers do not always get enough of these. When lacking, these “nutrients” are commonly associated with an increased risk of people getting chronic diseases.
The FDA states that two decades ago the average American diet lacked both vitamin A and vitamin C. Now research shows that vitamin A and vitamin C deficiencies are rare, which is why it is no longer compulsory to add these to food packaging labels.
Sugar Added to Packaged Food and Beverages
Sugar has become a huge health issue in recent years, and so those in the packaging industry will now be required to include “added sugars” in grams as well as a percentage of the daily value. The FDA points out that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs if more than 10 percent of a person’s total daily calories are derived from added sugar. This guideline is based on “scientific evidence” provided by the new dietary guidelines (see above) as well as recommendations by IOM, the World Health Organization (WHO), American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The FDA states that while sugar can be “part of a healthy dietary pattern,” if people consume too much of it, they will go above their calorie limits. As it is, the FDA says the average US consumer gets about 13 percent of total daily calories from added sugar!
Added sugars are found in beverages sweetened with sugar, as well as many snacks, sweets and candies, as well as sugar added during the food processing process. Sugar from syrup, honey, and some concentrated fruit and vegetable juice. However, the FDA definition of “added sugars” does not include 100 percent fruit juice (including frozen fruit juice concentrate) and some sugars used for fruit/veggie juices, jams and jellies, fruit spreads and preserves.
Fat Types on the Labels of Packaged Food
While “calories from fat” no longer has to be shown on labels, trans fat must be shown alongside saturated fat and total fat. The FDA confirms that allowed trans fat content in packaged food is to be reduced, but states it will not be eliminated.
Presentation of Labels Designed for Packaging
In addition to the extra information required on labels, presentation must also be changed for clarity. For example, the font size used for the number of servings in on pack is now bigger, and the size of the number of calories, even bigger than that.
While companies selling packaged food products and packaging services business still have time to get their new labels in a row, the quicker businesses respond and update their labels, the more benefit they will have, by gaining a competitive brand advantage.
As the FDA says: “Start early to avoid being left with non-compliant inventory.”
If you are looking for a reliable company to help with your shipping fulfillment services or to handle all your packaging services, Technik Packaging Services will find solutions for your products.