Food manufacturers who have been in the business for a while will likely have heard all about the changes the FDA intends to make to the nutrition facts panel in the next few years. But for food manufacturers just starting out in the industry, this may be news.
Understanding the update to the nutrition facts panel may seem tricky for those who are new to nutrition labeling, but it’s important that you are well-prepared for the nutrition facts panel compliance date. Let’s take a look at what you need to know so you can be ready when the deadline rolls around.
When is the Nutrition Facts Panel Compliance Date?
About a year ago, I was writing about the FDA food labeling changes because the compliance date at the time was expected to be May 5, 2017. The Trump Administration, however, pushed the compliance date to January 2020 in order to give food companies more time to gather the financial resources needed to comply with the new label. In that announcement, the FDA stated that they will give smaller food companies—those bringing in less than $10 million in sales annually—an extra 12 months to comply.
If you are a first-time food manufacturer, chances are you will fall into that category. In that case, your compliance date for the new nutrition facts panel will be January 2020. Even though you have a few years, though, it’s smart to get a headstart. After all, with the fast pace of this industry, the compliance date could easily sneak up on you. As such, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the changes now so you can be prepared when the time comes.
How Will the Nutrition Facts Panel Change?
There are basically two categories of changes that are being made to the new nutrition facts label: nutrients that are being added or removed, and stylistic modifications. Some nutrients are being added to reflect modern nutritional findings, and the stylistic modifications will draw attention to certain aspects of the panel.
First, here are the nutrients being added to the new nutrition facts label:
- Added Sugars: Americans consume a lot of processed and packaged foods, many of which contain hidden sugars which may contribute to various diseases and obesity. Science has also shown it is difficult to get all the required nutrient needs while staying within the recommended calorie limits when you are on a high-sugar diet (i.e. more than 10% of your daily calories come from added sugar).
- Vitamin D: Many Americans are actually vitamin D deficient, and a deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with a number of health problems. It is therefore important that consumers ensure they are getting enough Vitamin D (20 micrograms daily), and providing a value for it on the nutrition facts panel will help them do so.
- Potassium: As with vitamin D, a typical American’s diet is lacking in potassium. Having inadequate potassium in your diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure, so providing this information will help consumers be more mindful and deliberate about getting proper amounts of potassium.
Here are the nutrients on the current nutrition facts panel that won’t appear on the new label:
- Calories From Fat: New nutritional science shows that fat isn’t as bad for us as we once thought. The FDA is now acknowledging that some types of fat are actually healthy. By removing this value, there is a decreased focus on limiting fat intake.
- Vitamin A: Science shows that Americans are now getting adequate levels of vitamin A. While it was once a nutrient lacking in the typical American diet, it has become fairly easy for us to get enough of it. Therefore, vitamin A doesn’t need to be a focus on the nutrition facts panel anymore.
- Vitamin C: Like vitamin A, vitamin C is generally abundant in American diets. Because of this, it no longer needs to be emphasized on the nutrition facts panel.
When it comes to stylistic changes, the new panel will call for a larger type size and requires that “Calories” and “Serving size” be bolded so consumers can more easily see what the FDA deems the most important information on the panel. In addition to this, the footnote explaining the Percent Daily Value will also change to be more consumer-friendly. 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.” To see a nice visual of the changes, visit the FDA’s website.
How Do You Update Your Nutrition Facts Panel?
Now that you understand what the changes are and when they come into effect, you are probably wondering how to go about updating your nutrition facts panel. Luckily, there is an easy way to do it. FDA-compliant online nutrition analysis software, like LabelCalc, allows you to update your label to the new format in mere minutes. Since the new label template is already programmed into our software, all you have to do is select it and your label will instantly update. If you don’t already have an account with us, all you have to do is choose a pricing plan, set up your account, enter your recipe, and then select the new label format.
While you still have some time before the nutrition facts panel compliance date arrives, it isn’t too early to switch your label to the new format. This way, you won’t have to worry about it later and you won’t end up paying a premium when the demand for updating labels increases. Regardless of when you decide to upgrade your label, you have all the information you need to do so now.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software trusted by food manufacturers across the nation. For more information or to obtain an updated nutrition facts panel for your product, contact us today.