Big Changes Ahead: What You Should Know About the New Nutrition Facts Label

As a brand owner, you’re likely well aware of the big changes that are coming down the pike for nutrition facts labeling in light of the new rules recently released from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). 

Maybe you’re already using the new nutrition label design, or you’re just hearing about it and you’re not sure where to start as you convert your labels over. No matter where you are in the process, you’ll likely notice that there have been some big changes to the design and information presented. 

Have you thought about the next steps you need to take to make sure your nutrition facts label is updated and meets the new regulations? Curious about why the changes are being made and what the new nutrition facts label will look like?

The good news is, the changes are here to help all of us as consumers, have access to more accurate information about the foods we’re eating. Overall, the panel requirements are changing based on updated scientific information, nutrition research, and dietary recommendations. They’re also adapting to stay current in light of the changing way that we eat and drink today. 

Where The Nutrition Facts Label Started 

The nutrition facts label is all about displaying pertinent information to consumers about the food inside the package. While the nutrition facts panel didn’t first appear on food packages until 1994, there were “truth in labeling” practices set up as early as 1904, according to an article from Food Dive. Then, food labeling was meant to raise standards for the food industry and to ban mislabeled products. The goals evolved over time, however, to ensure that consumers had more information about what they were eating. 

A big change came in 1938, when the FDA began issuing food standards “to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.” And labeling regulations only improved as the years passed and more packaged food became readily available. The modern label that we see now hasn’t undergone any major changes since it was introduced in 1994, until now. 

Where The New Nutrition Facts Label is Going

In May 2016, the FDA released the final rules for the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific findings that link diet to chronic diseases, like heart disease. The purpose of the new food labeling is to allow consumers to better understand the nutritional information of the foods they buy– all so that they can make better-informed food choices. 

The main differences in the updated label? Larger type for calories and servings; updated daily values, servings, and added sugar; and a new footnote explaining the meaning of daily value.

The most noticeable change in the new label design is the larger (and bolded) font size for serving size and calories declarations. This will help consumers to easily see this key information quickly, without having to search for it. 

There are also specific changes to the daily value nutrients list. Added sugars must be included on each label. Also, in the place of Vitamins A and C, brands are now required to list potassium and Vitamin D. The science behind this is that most people get enough Vitamins A and C each day, but lack the necessary amount of potassium and Vitamin D.

Consumers will also see a change in the serving sizes presented, as those will be updated to reflect what people actually eat, not what they “should” eat. The last time the serving size requirement was updated was in 1993, and a lot has changed since then, mainly what (and how much) most people eat and drink. 

For example, brands are mandated to change serving size information to packages that are advertised as between one and two servings but are customarily consumed in one sitting, such a 20-ounce soda. For certain products that can be consumed in either one or multiple servings, like a pint of ice cream, brands will be required to list the nutrition facts in dual columns to reflect the information for both “per serving” and “per container.” 

Making the Change

Possibly the most important piece of information you need to know as a brand owner is the date in which you need to comply, and that depends on the size of your company.

For manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales, that deadline is fast approaching: January 1, 2020 is the date to have all your packaging nutrition labels switched to the new format. Manufacturers that make less than the $10 million threshold have until the following January. 

If you produce most single-ingredient sugars, like honey and maple syrup, or certain cranberry products, you have until July 2021, but some certain flavored dried cranberry companies have until July 1, 2020 to make the changes. Be sure to check the FDA website if you have questions on which deadline applies to your company, and to see more of the specific requirements for the new label.

Update on October 28, 2019: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in late October 2019 that it will be implementing a six month grace period for brands that make more than $10 million a year to change their nutrition facts label to comply with the new standards. The deadline is still January 1, 2020, but the FDA will wait 6 months before starting any enforcing actions. 

Partnering with a Packaging Company to Update Your Nutrition Label 

After you’ve determined the changes you need to make, and the deadline, you’ll need to start the process of making those changes. You’ll want to work with your graphics team and flexible food packaging company to make the appropriate changes to adhere to the new regulations. 

If you’re working with a packaging company that uses digital printing technology, the great news is you can seamlessly change the nutrition facts label. In fact, any design changes are a snap with digital printing, since the entire print run prints from a digital file, with no plates. At ePac, we use digital print technology, making these changes a breeze for our customers. 

If you’re wondering whether now is the time to see what digital printing can do for you, then give us a call us today at 844-623-8603 or contact us online and see how we can help you easily get your entire product line-up updated fast, before the deadline.