On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. FDA published the final rules in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016.
1. Features a Refreshed Design
2. Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science
3. Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes
See Highlights of Serving Sizes Changes Infographic (also available in Español).
Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018. However, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply.
Original versus New Label – Side-by-Side Comparison (PDF: 575KB) – Español (PDF: 789KB)
Highlights of What’s Different on the New Label (PDF: 475 KB) – Español (PDF: 608KB)
For more on the differences, see Details of Key Changes – 1 Page Overview (PDF: 225KB).
What’s considered a single serving has changed in the decades since the original nutrition label was created. So now serving sizes will be more realistic to reflect how much people typically eat at one time.
Food Serving Sizes Get a Reality Check Infographic (PDF: 431KB) – Español (PDF: 410KB)
1. Why are you changing the Nutrition Facts label?
The current label is more than 20 years old. In order to make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, it’s time to make changes to the Nutrition Facts label. The changes announced today are based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.
2. What major changes are you making?
The changes include modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updating serving size requirements, and providing a refreshed design. The new Nutrition Facts label will make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
3. Why must “added sugars” now be included?
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars.
In addition, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars. On average, Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages) and snacks and sweets (including grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings).
The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern. But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits. The updates to the label will help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. Consumers may or may not decide to reduce the consumption of certain foods with added sugars, based on their individual needs or preferences.
The final rule requires “Includes X g Added Sugars” to be included under “Total Sugars” to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to the product.
4. How does the FDA define “added sugars”?
The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.
For industry and those interested in the more technical version of the definition, please consult page 33980 of the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule.
5. Are you using the new label to tell people what to eat?
The Nutrition Facts label is designed to provide information that can help consumers make informed choices about the food they purchase and consume. It is up to consumers to decide what is appropriate for them and their families’ needs and preferences.
6. Why is trans fat still on the label if the FDA is phasing it out?
Trans fat will be reduced but not eliminated from foods, so FDA will continue to require it on the label. In 2015, the FDA published a final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the source of artificial trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe, but this determination would not affect naturally occurring trans fat, which would still exist in the food supply. Trans fat is present naturally in food from some animals, mainly ruminants such as cows and goats. Also, industry can currently use some oils that are approved as food additives and can still petition FDA for certain uses of PHOs.
7. Why are vitamin D and potassium being added to the Nutrition Facts label?
Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients Americans don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/), and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and potassium helps to lower blood pressure. Calcium and iron are already required and will continue to be on the label.
8. Why are you no longer requiring vitamins A and C?
In the early 1990’s, American diets lacked Vitamins A and C, but now Vitamins A and C deficiencies in the general population are rare. Manufacturers are still able to list these vitamins voluntarily.
9. Will the new label look different?
You will still recognize the label, but we have made some improvements to the format to provide significant public health information. Changes include:
10. I heard that some serving sizes will actually be bigger. That doesn’t seem to make sense with the obesity epidemic.
Some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease because by law, the serving sizes must be based on the amounts of food and drink that people typically consume, not on how much they should consume. Recent food consumption data show that some serving sizes need to be revised. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup and now is changing to â…” cup. The reference amount used to set a serving size of soda was previously 8 ounces and now is changing to 12 ounces. The reference amount for yogurt is decreasing from 8 ounces to 6 ounces. Nutrient information on the new label will be based on these updated serving sizes so it matches what people actually consume.
11. How much time will manufacturers have to make these changes?
Manufacturers will have until July 26, 2018 to comply with the final requirements, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.
12. Will the new requirements apply to imported food?
Yes, foods imported to the United States will need to meet the final requirements.
Download high-resolution examples of different labels in the new format (for reference only), includes the following label samples: