New FDA Nutrition Label Rules Taking Effect

The Food and Drug Administration’s new nutrition labeling rules kicked in on the first of January, marking big changes for many food manufacturers. The most prominent change is the new Nutrition Facts label with two side-by-side columns: one with nutritional information for a single serving, and a second with information for eating the entire package. Nutrition listings on the labels correspond with a 2,000 calorie daily diet.

Under the FDA’s new guidelines, labels showing how many calories per serving and how many overall calories the food contains are the law of the land. The labels apply to manufacturers that sell upward of $10 million in food annually. Manufacturers that sell less than $10 million in goods have until Jan. 1, 2021 to comply.

Manufacturers are also now required to disclose added sugars on labels. Differentiating between naturally occurring and added sugar can be confusing to consumers, who can miss out on nutrients by eschewing foods that have naturally occurring sugar. Consuming too much added sugar has been linked to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, so it makes sense for some consumers to want to avoid it.

The FDA says the label changes are designed to reflect how Americans actually eat. Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, commented, “Hopefully, the information on the new label will not only help consumers make more informed decisions about their food and beverage choices, but also motivate food manufacturers to improve nutritional quality of their products.”