Packaged food labels in US to have bigger, bolder display of calories

US Food and Drug Administration behind move aimed at helping people to make better informed choices

By Karnika Bahuguna
Published: Friday 27 May 2016
Credit: Flickr
Credit: Flickr Credit: Flickr

In a move aimed at helping people make better informed choices, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalised a new "Nutrition Facts" label for packaged foods which will disclose information related to calories in a bigger and bolder font and additional information on added sugar content.

The changes, which will reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease, were finalised on May 20.

“The ‘iconic’ look of the label remains, but we are making important updates to ensure consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they eat,” the FDA said.

The new labels will include bigger type size for calories, servings per container, and the serving size declaration. The number of calories and the serving size declaration will be highlighted in bold.

The changes also require manufacturers to declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals.

The new label will also require a footnote to better explain what percent Daily Value means. It will read: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. Two thousand calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

The new labels will also include "Added sugars", in grams and as percent Daily Value. The percent Daily Value helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.

Manufacturers have to comply with the final requirements till July 26, 2018. Those with less than $10 million in annual food sales have an additional year to make the changes. The regulations will also apply to the foods imported to the US.

Credit: FDA

Note: The images above are meant for illustrative purposes to show how the new Nutrition Facts label might look compared to the old label. Both labels represent fictional products. When the original hypothetical label was developed in 2014 (the image on the left-hand side), added sugars was not yet proposed so the “original” label shows 1g of sugar as an example. The image created for the “new” label (shown on the right-hand side) lists 12g total sugar and 10g added sugar to give an example of how added sugars would be broken out with a % Daily Value.

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