Starting December 1, coming soon near you – changes to US food label requirements.

US food labelling laws require that most foods bear nutrition labeling. Furthermore, the information must be easily read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary terms of purchase and use. In other words, the average grocery shopper should be able to easily read and understand the nutritional information provided on a can or package.

Here is an example:

food-label

New Requirements for Restaurants

As soon as December 1, 2015, restaurants and other retail food establishments that are part of a chain (20 or more locations) must begin to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items. This includes food on display and self-service food items.

Examples of the foods to which this new rule will apply include any food for immediate consumption at a sit-down or quick service restaurant; take-out and delivered food ready to eat; pizza slices from a movie theater; food from a hot buffet or salad bar; self-service foods and foods on display intended for individual consumption (e.g., sandwiches, wraps, and paninis at a deli counter; and cookies from a mall cookie counter; bagels, donuts, and rolls offered for individual sale).

The nutritional information is to be provided on menus and menu boards, including information about calories and a clear statement that allows consumers to understand what this meal means in terms of a total daily diet. Restaurants must also have more detailed written information available and inform their customers of this fact.

 

A New Look

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a new label design that will change the way nutritional information is presented to consumers.food-label1

 

Out with the old                                     &                            In with the new

The proposed design takes into account new information about sugars and fats and their impact on the body. Among other changes, the re-designed label will:

  • Require information about “added sugars.
  • Update daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D.
  • Require information about the amount of potassium and Vitamin D as new “nutrients of public health significance.”
  • Remove information about “Calories from Fat” but continue to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Require that packaged foods, including drinks, that are typically eaten in one sitting be labeled as a single serving and that calorie and nutrient information be declared for the entire package. This will show nutrient information based on how people actually eat as opposed to how they “should” be eating.
  • Make calories and serving sizes more prominent to emphasize parts of the label that are important in addressing current public health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Shift the Percent Daily Value to the left of the label and more clearly explain its meaning (tells you how much of certain nutrients you are getting from a particular food in the context of a total daily diet).

Manufacturers will have two years to implement these changes, which will apply to imported and local foods.

Contact us for more information or for help with understanding how and when to start preparing for these changes to US food label requirements.