New Nutrition Labels are Coming (Eventually)

The FDA just pushed back the required compliance dates for new nutrition labels. Big companies are thrilled, but critics are calling the pushback “a blow to public health.”

The pushback ranges from 18 to 30 months, depending on the size of the food company. Smaller companies will have until January 1, 2021 to update their nutrition labels. Companies with over $10 million in sales have a little bit less time – until January 1, 2020. The original deadline to roll out new labels was July 2018.

Food companies are thrilled, because a delay means they don’t have to spend the extra manpower (and money) to design and print new packaging quickly.

Nutrition Labels Old and New - New label shows added sugars.

Old vs. New Nutrition Labels

President of Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Peter G. Lurie, is not as thrilled about the delay. In a column on their website, he writes that, “The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to cave in to food industry demands and delay the deadline for companies to update their Nutrition Facts labels harms the public’s health, denies consumers vital information, and creates an unfair and confusing marketplace as many companies have gone ahead with the labels anyway.”

A staggered roll-out is unavoidable, since companies are going to be replacing old packaging with new as they restock store shelves, but the extra time draws out the period where some food has the old nutrition labels while other has the new, clearer labeling.

“Despite the critical public health need for the updated labels,” Dr. Lurie writes, “the Trump Administration has yielded to the industry’s arguments that it will cost it too much to meet the original deadlines.” The critical need he’s referring to is the ever-climbing obesity rates here in the U.S., linked to a smorgasbord of health issues and billions in medical expenses.

Push Back on the Pushback: Get heard!

The good news is that the new dates aren’t yet set in stone. The new rule is open to public comment through November 1. You can leave a comment here letting the FDA know how you feel about them putting industry interests above the public interest.

New Nutrition Label Changes

The new nutrition labels feature several improvements over the version you’re probably used to seeing. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Calories, serving size, and servings per container are in a larger font.
  • Breaks out added sugars. Labels will still list total sugar amounts in grams, but companies are also required to list added sugars separately. Added sugars also now have a percent daily value listed, based on the amount of added sugars considered safe to consume each day.
  • Highlights different vitamins to align with modern deficiencies. Vitamin D and potassium are now required, along with calcium and iron, which were required already. Companies no longer have to list vitamins A or C.
  • Larger serving sizes. Companies need to list realistic serving sizes that align with how much average consumers are likely to actually eat.
  • Lists servings per package. Packages that contain one to two servings or that you people could eat in a single sitting  have to include a column listing nutrition facts for eating the entire package along with amounts per serving. Think a 24-ounce soda or a pint of ice cream.

Related at Care2

The FDA just pushed back the required compliance dates for new nutrition labels. Here's how you can get heard.

Nutrition Labels via FDA, other images via Thinkstock.

44 comments

heather g
heather g9 days ago

It is vital that we know whether there is GMO content.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Good

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Christine D
Christine D10 days ago

If only individual feedback to the FDA would be of any use. They only care about the deep-pocketed industries that control their every move, like Monsanto and Big Pharma.

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Anne M
Anne Moran11 days ago

All servings should read 1 cup,, rather than 2/3 cup; who eats anything in 2/3 cup,, don't complicate things,, just make it 1 cup...

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chris B
chris B11 days ago

Another Trump appointee thing most likely. They are hiding MANY things from us consumers. Demand all you want, Trump and his cabinet are in control now. And we can do nothing about it. Trust NOTHING that comes out of the WH. The DICTATOR has begun.

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Heather B
Heather B11 days ago

I can read the fine print just fine as it is. What I would like to see is whether it contains any GMO ingredients and truthful and transparent sourcing information.

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