For the first time in 18 years, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to overhaul nutrition labels. The proposed changes, if approved, will require manufacturers to make significant changes to their labels.  Preliminary recommendations have been issued, the comment period has closed, and the final rules should be announced before the end of 2015.

The FDA’s proposed rules recommend changes to both the form and substance of the nutrution labels.  The formatting changes are intended to help consumers absorb the most important information about the food they eat.  Some of the proposed changes include increasing the font of the number of calories and serving sizes, moving the “parentage of daily value” information to the left of the nutrition label so that it is the first thing buyers read, and making the footnote explaining what the “percentage of daily value” means more prominent.

If adopted, the proposed rules would require manufacturers to make several changes to substance of their nutrition labels, including the following:

  • Adding information about the amount of “added” sugar;
  • Updating daily values for certain nutrients including sodium, dietary fiber, and Vitamin D;
  • Declaring the amount of potassium and Vitamin D;
  • Labeling packaged foods and drinks typically consumed in one sitting as a single serving; and
  • Providing both “per serving” and “per package” nutrition labels for certain packaged foods and beverages typically eaten in more than one sitting.

The proposed rules would also permit companies to omit certain information, such as the amount of Vitamins A and C in their products and the total “calories from fat,” if adopted.

Here is a graphic provided by the FDA illustrating the proposed changes:

FDA Labels

The FDA is trying to give companies adequate time to make the necessary modifications.  The FDA is proposing that industry be allowed two years to comply with the final rules.  The FDA recognizes “that it may take industry time to analyze products for which there may be new mandatory nutrient declarations, make any required changes to the labels, review and update their records of product labels, and print new labels . . . . A compliance date that is two years after the effective date is intended to provide industry time to revise labeling to comply with any new labeling requirements while balancing the need for consumers to have the information in a timely manner.

For more information about the FDA’s proposed changes to nutrition labels, click here.  The proposed rules can be found here and here.  For additional information about the FDA’s changes, including a small business exemption, click here.