With the first quarter of 2019 coming to a close, we are less than one year away from the compliance date for large manufacturers to implement the revisions of the nutrition and supplement facts labels.
“Label Insight’s database showed 45,691 active products have adopted the new nutrition label on the packaging,” Thea Bourianne, Label Insight Solutions Consultant, MBA, RD, LDN
The changes to the nutrition facts panel is significant for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it increases the transparency and understanding of nutrients like calories and serving sizes. The new nutrition facts label (NFL) has an updated look with a larger font for calories to improve awareness and emphasis on the calories foods contain.
Other changes include the addition of “added sugar” on the nutrition facts label for the first time. The FDA has defined added sugars as ingredients that are used to sweeten foods, for example table sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, and sugars from some concentrated fruit or vegetable juices, to name a few.
The vitamins A & C have been removed from the NFL because most Americans are consuming enough of these and vitamin D and potassium have taken their place on the label because these are nutrients that we don’t consume enough of on average.
Additionally, the regulation requires some products to declare the calories per container in addition to per serving. This is because it isn’t always clear to consumers if some packages are intended to be one serving or two. On the nutrition facts label, this is displayed as two columns, where the first column represents the calories and nutrients in one serving, and the second column represents the calories and nutrients in the whole container.
Serving sizes have also been updated as part of these changes to nutrition labeling. Today we eat much larger servings than the average person 40 years ago, and serving sizes on products now need to reflect this. For example, the average ice cream serving was ½ cup, but today is ⅔ cup; soda was 12 fluid ounces and is now 20 fluid ounces; bagels were 55 grams and now they are twice that size on average, 110 grams.
Prior to the announcement of the compliance date extension in June 2017, there were just over 6,600 food products in the Label Insight database that had updated their nutrition facts label (NFL). By the end of 2017, that number had grown to over 19,500 products adopting the updated NFL format.
At the end of 2018, Label Insight’s database showed that 45,691 active products have adopted the new nutrition label on the packaging; and 48,692 active products at the end of January. While this seems like a significant number of products, it only represents 13 percent of all food and beverage products in the Label Insight database.
While no food category has surpassed a third of the products converting the labels, some food categories that have relatively high adoption of the new nutrition facts are powdered milk products (32 percent), frozen french fries & potatoes (31 percent), and frozen fruit and juice concentrates (28 percent).