From Legality to Reality
Do the recent updates to nutritional labels have you feeling puzzled? Get clear answers to your questions, plus actionable next steps to get your business on the right path to label compliance.
Nutritional labeling requirements have experienced a string of updates for the past few years, and some of these updates have businesses asking what is required on our label? As a producer or seller of food products, businesses of all sizes now have the responsibility of listing the contents of their products.
THE WHAT IF
If a new customer comes into your store and purchases a product without a label on it, how are they to know if it contains potential allergens? If they are allergic to an ingredient that is not listed, who’s at fault, the consumer or business? A food label with proper nutritional information serves as insurance to the business, and also notifies the consumer of a potential health risk. Without proper labeling, similar items can get shuffled on a shelf and become a guessing game of what’s inside.
WHO NEEDS IT
All too often business owners believe they are too small in production volume to require labels on their products. However, if you are selling product to a customer that they can pick up and bring to the register, the product must be labeled for the protection of the consumer and your business. Proper labeling must include a product name, ingredients/allergen statement, sell by date, and weight using a minimum of 6-point font. Well-labeled products allow the consumer to make an educated decision on whether the product will adversely affect their health by consuming it.
FDA NUTRITIONAL LABEL CHANGES TAKE EFFECT JANUARY 1, 2020
The FDA recently finalized nutrition facts label revisions for all packaged foods. Changes will take effect by January 1, 2020, though manufacturers making less than $10 million in annual gross revenues will have one additional year to comply. The original date for compliance was July 2018. Since a new administration has taken office, the date has been pushed back to January 2020 to allow more time for compliance. These changes reflect diet and disease conscience trends and make room for new scientific information that will help consumers make informed, healthy choices. The FDA website provides an in-depth explanation of the new nutrition label requirements, but for now, here are the important points producers need to know to ensure they are on the right path to label compliance.
FDA NUTRITIONAL LABEL REVISION EXPLAINED
Easy Access to Information
- The well-known look of the nutrition label will remain the same, but important updates will be made to ensure consumers have all the information they need to make mindful decisions about the food they buy. These changes include increasing the type set size for data, like calories per serving and serving size.
- Food producers will be responsible for declaring the actual serving amount and percent daily values like calcium, vitamin D, iron and potassium.
- The label footnote will be revised to better define what daily value means, “The % Daily Value (DV) 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
Serving Size vs. Package Size
- Certainly, the most interesting change to the FDA nutrition label updates is the serving size requirements. Until recently, serving sizes were determined based on amounts of foods and beverages that people “should” be eating.
- Moving forward, nutrition label updates must reflect the amount of food people are “actually” eating. Serving sizes have changed since they were suggested and published in 1993, with individuals eating larger single-serving portions.
- Many packaged foods are generally consumed in a single serving, though intended for several servings. The FDA requires packaged foods to list nutritional information for the total consumable package, apart from the recommended serving size. An example of multi-serving products generally consumed in a single serving would be “Big Grab” potato chips and packaged nuts. This new label format is termed “dual column” and aims to help consumers better understand portion sizes.
Reviewing & Editing Your Labels
Reviewing your product labels may seem like a daunting task depending on the number of items that you produce. It’s important to review any recipes that have changed in the past, or ingredients that have been substituted to make sure that they match on the label. Review and edit your labels in small groups to make the process of additions and revisions much more manageable. Here’s some more tips to consider while updating your labels.
- Make sure each label is legible, ingredients should not be hidden or use smaller than six-point font.
- MUST HAVES: product name, net weight, sell by date, and ingredients that can be clearly read.
- Items do not have to be labeled if a product is being served to the customer from behind/over the counter.
- Software is available that will allow you to input recipes and ingredients to produce a nutrition fact panel. Look for software that is compatible with your current method of printing labels.
- Shelf talkers, or product information listed on the shelf is not a viable means of labeling products. This refers back to items being shuffled on shelves.
- Being transparent with customers on ingredients and contents is always a best practice.
- Applying a label to your products will help strengthen your brand, and also provide your customers a sense of security.