The FDA, in collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama, has suggested updating the nutrition facts label for packaged foods.This, if adopted, could be one of the biggest changes in terms of consumer information in the processed food sector.
Why is a change in nutrition fact panel needed?
“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it's good for your family,” said Michelle Obama.
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg explained that this new format will help consumers to better understand what they actually eat. A connection between some food consumption habits and the development of serious chronic diseases (such as obesity and heart disease) has been highlighted by scientists, and tackling issues regarding food is essential.
The Nutrition Facts panel was put in place in 1994 and has changed once in 2006 when information on trans fat had to be included on the label.
What will change?
Review of serving sizes
The most important will probably concern serving sizes. As serving size corresponds to what people effectively eat and not what people should eat, portions have to be re-thought. Below, infographics from the FDA show real portions consumed by people in the US.
Review of added sugar
Another proposal is to write on the label the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced.
“Per Serving” / “Per Package”
On current packages, calories and nutrition information are showed “per serving” only. FDA suggests adding a “Per Package” column to better inform consumers about their food and beverage consumption.
– FDA propose to review daily values of nutrients especially regarding sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D. Thus people are able to understand their nutrition information considering their total daily diet.
– US consumers lack of some nutrients such as potassium and vitamin D. FDA suggests to explicitly indicate the amount of these nutrients on the new package to know which food is full of necessary nutrients and help consumers to remain healthy.
– Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the panel. Producer and manufacturer could write them voluntarily if they would like to.
– FDA would like to highlight some information and suggests bold and larger font for calories, serving sizes and %DV
– Two formats have been proposed. An alternate label format implies even bigger changes. On this one, nutritional information would be divided into 3 categories: “quick facts,” “avoid too much” and “get enough.”
How much will this regulation cost to the food industry?
The FDA estimates changes in Nutrition Fact panel would cost approximately $2 billion to the global Food Industry. It would be hard time for small companies to get in compliance with all these new regulations.
In Europe, the recent INCO labeling change has already cost millions to companies. Products from Europeans food industries must be in compliance with the new INCO regulation before December 2016.
Who will be affected?
Some meat, poultry and processed egg product would not be impacted but a large majority of packaged goods will be. Taking current figures, around 700,000 consumer products should be adapted.
Lascom PLM helps R&D, quality and business team to better manage product life cycle and product portfolio. Indeed, changes in nutrition fact panel is difficult, especially on the whole product portfolio. It requieres time, energy and money. With Lascom PLM, once the nutrition fact panel template is defined, other products in the portfolio will automatically follow this model.