FDA Submits Final Rules on Nutrition Facts Panel and Serving Sizes
May 9

FDA Submits Final Rules on Nutrition Facts Panel and Serving Sizes

Final rules for updating the Nutrition Facts panel and serving sizes have been submitted by the FDA to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory impact analysis.

According to an FDA spokeswoman, the FDA has yet to determine a release date for the final rules, but in MJR's experience, this means that final approval is imminent, likely within 90-180 days.

The proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts panel on foods and beverages will affect nearly all packaged goods found in the United States. If adopted, the changes would include a greater understanding of nutrition science, updated serving size requirements and new labeling requirements for certain package sizes.

Here are the key changes proposed (read the full proposal HERE):

  • Remove ‘calories from fat.’
  • Declare ‘added sugars.’
  • Require pre-approval for some fiber ingredients included in dietary fiber calculation.
  • Keep mandatory requirement to list calcium and iron, but make vitamins A and C voluntary.
  • Add mandatory requirement to list vitamin D and potassium.
  • Update reference values used to calculate percent daily values (DVs) of nutrients.
  • Update reference value for sodium from 2,400mg to 2,300 mg.
  • Make ‘calories’ more prominent.

The FDA is also proposing to change serving sizes to better reflect typical consumption behavior. Here are the key changes proposed:

  • Amend definition of a single-serving container.
  • Require dual-column labeling for certain containers.
  • Update and modify several reference amounts customarily consumed (RACC).
  • Add several food products and categories to the RACC per eating occasion for the general food supply.
  • Make technical amendments to various aspects of the serving size regulations.

In the 20 years since the Nutrition Facts labels were first put on the back of nearly every food and beverage in stores, interest in reading the label has steadily declined, according to The NPD Group. NPD asks consumers their level of agreement with the statement, “I frequently check labels to determine whether the foods I buy contain anything I’m trying to avoid.”  

Following the passage of the Nutritional Labeling and Education Act in 1990, 65 percent of consumers completely or mostly agreed with the statement. That percentage decreased to 60 just before Nutrition Labels appeared on packaging, and rose to 64 percent in 1995 once labels were present.

Since then, interest has declined to a low of 48 percent in 2013.

NPD also tracks what consumers usually look for when they do read the label. In consecutive order, these items are: calories, sugar, sodium, fat and carbohydrates.

With changes like the declaration of added sugars, the label may promote the reformulation of existing products and creation of new products by food companies in order to boast a healthier nutrition profile.