Although the primary concern of pre-packaged food manufacturer is to take the utmost care of the product quality, most of them often forget that unless their food label is in accordance with the stipulated FDA guidelines, it is unlikely to make its way to the market. In December 2002, FDA regulations were revised to make nutrition labeling mandatory on most food labels along with mentioning diet-related health claims on foods.
By December 2005, it became mandatory for all food manufacturers to include a detailed nutrient label in pre-packaged foods. The FDA has again submitted new nutrient label guidelines to the White House, which are likely to be implemented soon. Under the new guidelines, most packaged food manufacturers may have to change their labeling design according to the regulations. Manufacturers having access to professional label design and printing company would be able to make the transformation in a cost-efficient manner without affecting the continuity in the supply chain. Let’s take a look at the finer lines of the proposition.
The Need for Change
Growing concerns about the health related issues of people around the world led many nutritional scientists to encourage less consumption of added sugar in food, as it may act as a precursor for many diseases. This in turn has prodded the FDA to update existing food labeling norms and make it a prerequisite for label designers to include information about ‘added sugar’ in the nutrient label.
The FDA has proposed changes in previously defined food labeling guidelines to reflect current scientific information showing a link between diet and chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Below is a brief account some suggestions in the report submitted by the FDA.
Inclusion of Vitamin and Added Sugar Info
New guidelines make it a prerequisite for label designers to include information about ‘added sugar’ in the nutrient labeling. The daily nutrients value of sodium, Vitamin D, and dietary fiber used to calculate the Percent Daily Value listed on the label, have also been changed. It has become pivotal to mention the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label in addition to the required calcium and iron content. However, Vitamin A and C can be included at the discretion of the manufacturer.
Serving Size Requirement
Serving size has a great impact on consumer’s health, therefore, in the proposed guidelines, the FDA has proposed mentioning of serving size on the packaging label. According to the FDA, the serving size must reflect how people eat or drink today. On labels of packaged food or drinks consumed in one serving, the manufacturer is required to mention the calorie and nutrition value in a single serving of the packaged food. For example, a chocolate bar consumed in a single serving would be labeled as one serving rather than mentioning more than one serving.
Labeling information regarding total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat continues to hold the same position in nutrient labeling, but now with a modified version. The calories gained from fat will now be removed. According to nutrition science the type of the fat consumed is more important than the amount.
Besides labeling information, the nutrition label design will also undergo a significant change, which will include prominence of calories and serving sizes to address current health concerns. Manufacturer and label designers will have to ensure that the calories and serving size information are clearly mentioned.
Larger packs consumed in multiple sittings will require the dual column format nutrient label to highlight ‘preserving’ as well as ‘per package’ calories and nutrient information. These guidelines are to provide consumers with a better understanding of how many calories and nutrients they will consume if they gulp down the whole package in one sitting.
The Way Forward
The proposed changes in the nutrient label will have a great effect on the food package industry, barring few exceptions such as meat, poultry, and processed egg product manufacturers–which are regulated by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. If these proposed regulations apply to your business, you will need to update your label quickly to avoid a complaint. It is important to have access to a professional designing and labeling company beforehand to remain compliant and efficient.