Food Facts

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new requirements for the Label to provide recent and accurate nutrition information about foods based on updated scientific data and more recent consumer behavior trends. Here's a look at what's changing and why.

The New Nutrition Label

What are the differences between the old and the new Nutrition Facts Labels?

The new Nutrition Facts Label is based on updated food consumption data, nutrient recommendations, the 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and consumer behavior trends. These updates are reflected in the changes required in the label design, nutrient list, and serving size.

Design: Although the “iconic” look of the label is maintained, the type size for “Calories” and “Serving size” is increased and bolded; and the type size for “Servings per container” is also increased.  These refinements are intended to draw attention to important information to help consumers make informed decisions about food and beverage products that are consumed.

Nutrients: The changes in the nutrition information are based on updated scientific evidence, nutrient intake recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (now Health and Medicine Division), and the 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. 

  • The amount and % DV for vitamin D and potassium is now required on the label, since most Americans do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts, placing them at a higher risk for certain chronic diseases.
  • In addition to the % DV for calcium and iron, the amount of these nutrients is required on the label.
  • “Sugars” will now be listed as “Total sugars,” to include both naturally-occurring and added sugars. Sugars that are added to food and beverage products during processing are required to be listed on the label in grams and as % DV, to allow the distinction between inherent (e.g., naturally-occurring sugars, such as those in fruits) and added sugar. This information is intended to help limit the intake of added sugars to less than 10 % of total calories consumed per day.
  • The new rule for dietary fiber limits the type of isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrate(s) that can be considered as dietary fiber, and therefore cannot be included in the calculation of dietary fiber, listed on the label. Originally, the FDA determined that only seven non-digestible carbohydrates (beta-glucan soluble fiber, psyllium husk, cellulose, guar gum, locust bean gum, pectin, and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose), added to foods can be considered as dietary fiber, given their physiologic benefits.

Nutrition Facts Label

Isolated or Synthetic Non-digestible Carbohydrates Considered as Dietary Fiber

1993 Nutrition Facts Label 

All non-digestible carbohydrates, including isolated and synthetic were considered as dietary fiber.

2016 Nutrition Facts Label

The following seven non-digestible carbohydrates are considered as dietary fiber:

  • Isolated
    • cellulose
    • guar gum
    • locust bean gum
    • pectin
    • beta-glucan
    • psyllium husk
  • Synthetic
    • hydroxypropylmethylcellulose

June 2018 guidance for industry on isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates

The FDA intends to propose to add the following eight isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates to the definition of “dietary fiber:”

  • Isolated
    • mixed plant cell wall fibers
    • arabinoxylan
    • alginate
    • inulin and inulin-type fructans
    • high amylose starch (resistant starch 2)
  • Synthetic
    • galactooligosaccharides
    • polydextrose
    • resistant maltodextrin/dextrin
  • The footnote on the Nutrition Facts Label has changed to better explain the meaning of % DV.
  • Vitamins A and C are no longer required on the label but may be listed voluntarily.
  • Calories from fat are not required on the label because research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Serving size: According to recent food consumption survey data, the amounts of certain food and beverage products consumed in one eating occasion has changed since 1993, leading to updating about 20 % of the serving sizes for certain food and beverage products.  The new Nutrition Facts Label rule requires the updated serving sizes on the label, to provide realistic information and encourage maintenance and/or improvement of dietary practices.  The serving size for some foods has increased, but for others it has decreased. For example, the serving size for soda (carbonated soft drink) has increased to 12 ounces from 8 ounces, and the serving size for yogurt has decreased to 6 ounces from 8 ounces.  

Dual Column: Calorie and nutrient information for “per serving” and “per package” is required on food packages containing multiple servings that could be consumed on one or more eating occasions, for example a pint of ice cream or a 3-ounce bag of chips. Along with bolded calories and servings in a container, the dual column label is intended to help understand the amount of calories and nutrients consumed when consuming the entire package/unit at one time.
For food and beverage packages containing between one and two servings (e.g., a 20-ounce bottle of soda), information on calories and other nutrients is required on the label as one serving, because the product is typically consumed in one eating occasion.
When is the new Nutrition Facts Label expected on packaged food and beverage products with more than one ingredient?

The new Nutrition Facts Label rules were finalized in 2016, however, the effective compliance date by which foods and beverages sold in the marketplace had to bear the new Nutrition Facts Label was delayed.  Food manufacturers with annual food sales of $10 million or more are required to have the new Nutrition Facts Label on food and beverage packages by January 1, 2020. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales must comply by January 1, 2021.  Some packaged food and beverage products on the market, however, may already bear the new label.