A Major Overhaul to Food Packaging Standards & FDA Nutritional Labels

In recent years we have seen many initiatives introduced to combat the growing problem of unhealthy diets and obesity. However, it has been over 20 years since the nutritional labels themselves have been changed, despite 67% of consumers reviewing food labels to find nutritional information and guide their purchasing decisions (Salge 2016).

Now, after 20 years, the FDA’s new Nutrition Facts label has come into effect and is expected to have a significant impact on food manufacturers and the wider packaging community.

Overview of the Changes Made

The new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods aims to reflect new scientific information such as the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label intends to make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices by providing more accessible, accurate and easy to understand nutritional information.

Therefore, a whole host of changes have been introduced (shown in the image below) which include modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared, updating serving size requirements and providing a refreshed design.

Key changes include:

  • Total calories listed in bold in a larger font
  • Total calories information will reflect calories per package (for packages containing more than one serving) which allows consumers to quickly evaluate calorie intake if they consume more than a typical single serving
  • Removal of metrics found to be confusing for the consumer such as ‘Calories from Fat’
  • Added sugars (by amount and daily % value) in a larger font size
  • Declaration of absolute amounts of vitamins and minerals

Impact of Changes

The new label will have far-reaching implications for the food manufacturing and packaging industries, including effects on ingredients and recipes. For the packaging industry, the changes represent both a challenge and an opportunity as there will be a need to rebuild the artwork of many products and brands.

Following consultation with industry and consumer groups, the FDA itself recognised the significant impact of the new label and has since extended the compliance dates to January 2020 (for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales) and January 2021 (for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales). This provides manufacturers and packaging artwork agencies with the necessary time to obtain guidance from the FDA and subsequently complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products.

One area of significant change relates to serving sizes; some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease as serving sizes are legally required to represent the amounts of food and drink that are typically consumed rather than how much they should consume. Recent food consumption data has showcased that serving sizes do require significant revision. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously half a cup, however this is changing to one cup. Conversely, the reference amount for yoghurt is decreasing from 8 oz to 6 oz to match what people actually consume. Changes to serving sizes will require comprehensive changes to packaging labels and designs.

To find out how Amnet can support your packaging initiatives and revisions as a result of the new Nutrition Facts label, please contact us at hello@amnetpackaging.com

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