Nutrition Facts Panel

Shana Madden, Extension Agent,
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service

HTF 0117

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The FDA has recently finalized a new Nutrition Facts panel layout for packaged foods based on current science based information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The new panel makes it easier for consumers to make better food choices.

Features a Refreshed Design

The nutrition facts panel still has a similar layout to the original panel, but includes updates to ensure that consumers have all the information needed to make better decisions about food choices. The changes include increasing the print size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving Size,” and bolding the number of calories and the “serving size” to highlight this information.

Also, manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent daily value of vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. The gram amount for other vitamins and minerals is voluntary.

The footnote is changing to better explain what percent daily value actually means. It will now 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 information.

Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science

Added sugars in grams and as a percent daily value will also be on the label. Scientific data shows that it can be difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than ten percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label. The list of nutrients required is being updated. Calcium and iron will continue to be required whereas vitamins A and C are no longer required but can be included voluntarily. Total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat are still on the label, but Calories from fat is being removed because research has proven that the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Daily values for nutrients like sodium, fiber, and vitamin D are being updated based on new scientific evidence from Dietary Guidelines, Institute of Medicine, etc. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not exceed and are used to calculate the percent daily value that manufacturers include on the label.

Updates to Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes

By law, serving sizes must be based on the amount of food and beverage that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. The amount that people eat has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993.

Research has shown that package size affects what people eat. Therefore, packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20-ounce soda or can of soup, are required to provide the calories and nutrients as one serving because people typically consume their entirety in one sitting.

If certain products are larger than a single serving but could be consumed in one or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide a “dual column” label to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package” basis. Examples would include a 24-ounce soda or a pint of ice cream. Dual column labels will allow people to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.

Manufacturers will be required to begin using the new label on their food products no later than July 26, 2018.

Nutrition Fact label

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 2016. Changes to the nutrition facts label. Silver Spring, MD: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available from: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm. Accessed December 12, 2016.

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