This Thursday the White House will announce the first major changes to mandated food nutrition labels since 1990. Recently the FDA announced that they sent the White House new guidelines for the food labels based on new health information and American eating habits.
Why are they changing?
A lot has changed in America's eating habits since the nutrition label requirement was put in place. As more Americans become aware of dietary issues or want to eat healthier, there is more demand for clear nutrition labeling.
In fact, a USDA study found the number of working adults who frequently read Nutrition Facts labels rose from 34 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2010.
Predictions on Food Labeling Changes
1. Calories Section
The most common suggestion for labeling changes is to make the calorie count on labels more prominent. Nutritionists today make many dietary suggestions based on calories. Some also recommend removing the "Calories from Fat" information in order to focus on the overall calorie count.
2. New Line for Added Sugar
Today food manufacturers are not required to separate natural sugars from added sugars. Nutritionists believe it's important to add a line for added sugars.
However, of all the proposed changes, this one is sure to have the most push back from the food industry since it claims it isn't possible for it to distinguish the two in it's labs.
3. Whole Wheat Information
Food manufacturers can say that a food product is "whole wheat" even if the food only contains a small amount. Nutrition advocates are pushing for a listed percentage of whole wheat.
4. Clear Unit of Measure
Because America does not use the metric system as its primary measurement system, it can be confusing for the average consumer to understand how much sugar they're actually eating. Nutritionists suggest a familiar unit like teaspoons rather than grams.
5. Updated Serving Size
Have you ever eaten a snack that you assumed was a single serving only to find out it was one and a half? The serving size information was created based on the eating habits of American's in 1990 and earlier. As our diets have changed and we've increased "on-the-go" eating, there is a need to adjust this part of the food label.
These changes will affect all foods that are required to include nutrition labeling on the package. To easily make the transition, consider using labeling software to print these labels in-house. If you are printing your own labels in-house, you just have to make the change nutrition part of the label file before you print.
If you have any questions about food labeling regulations, contact our Vertical Markets manager, Paul Johnson.