United States: FDA Updates The Face Of Food Labels

The federal Food and Drug Administration has recently published two rules, under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), concerning the nutrition facts panel on foods and the supplement facts panel on dietary supplements. These changes reflect the concerns which led to the passage of the FSMA; that is, creating a more knowledgeable food consumer. These new rules update FDA Rules and Guidance documents previously finalized after the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) and its amendments. The original goal of both the NLEA and the underlying rules was to standardize food labels. That goal has been expanded under these two new FSMA rules to not only keep labels standardized but also to provide additional nutrition information to the food buying consumer.

In finalizing these new rules, the FDA has inserted its comments that are attached to the new rule. The agency notes that the changes to the nutrition facts panel are intended to give the consumer sufficient information about the contents of the product to allow the consumer to make educated decisions regarding the food they buy and consume. The two new rules are designed to address two main goals: first, update the content and format of the nutrition facts panel, and second, updating the Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed ("RACCs") and creating the new "Dual-Column" label.

I. Updating the Format and Contents of the Nutrition/Supplement Facts Panel

The FDA's new rules have made changes to the nutrition facts panel on foods and the supplement facts panel on dietary supplements including the following:

  • "Calories from fat" has been removed, as modern scientific understanding of human health and metabolism have shown that the amount of fat consumed is less important than the type of fat consumed. This is why trans fats have been banned from foods in the US.
  • "Added Sugars" and "Total Sugars" have replaced the existing sugar content disclosure. Similar to fat content, modern understanding of how sugars impact our diets and health has shown that added sugars are more harmful than the naturally occurring, less processed sugars in our food.
  • The vitamin and mineral disclosure requirements have changed. The FDA, through national research results, has found that the average American consumer obtains sufficient amounts of certain vitamins and minerals through an average diet such that disclosing these amounts on food labels is not useful for consumers. As a result, Vitamins A and C, which had previously been mandatory, are now not required, but still permitted. Instead, Vitamin D and potassium are now required, which are less likely to be found in sufficient quantities in the average American diet.
  • Updating certain reference values used in the declaration of percent Daily Value's of nutrients on the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts panels.
  • The font for "Calories" has been increased and is in bold in order to draw more attention to this disclosure to reflect the relative importance of this value.
  • Additional records-keeping responsibilities to support certain disclosures. For example-
    • Dietary Fiber- Because there are no analytical tests that can distinguish between dietary fiber and nondigestible carbohydrates
    • Added and naturally occurring sugars
    • Various forms of Vitamin E
    • Folate and folic acid.

In the new rules, the FDA has provided a comparison of the old and new label format and content:



II. RACCs and Dual Column Labels

RACCs and the new Dual-Column labels are based in a better understanding of the interaction between container size, serving size and the average American diet. Essentially, the FDA raised concerns that a container size can cause consumers to consume an entire package of food even when it contains more than one serving. In order to better reflect this reality, and better educate the consumer as to the nutrient contents of the food they consume in a single sitting, the FDA has revisited the RACCs of some foods, and now requires the use of dual column labels where a consumer is most likely to consume the entire container at a single sitting.

RACCs were created in 1993, and were based on national food consumption surveys conducted in the 1970's and 80's by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). These studied allowed the FDA to establish a database of foods and the amounts that Americans were regularly consuming at a sitting at the time. Since then, the FDA and USDA have continued to survey American food consumption and have found that the assumptions and data that supported the RACCs, no longer apply, or have changed significantly. Using data from the 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the FDA updated the RACCs where the survey showed that consumption had increased or decreased by 25 percent compared to the 1993 values.

The FDA also recognized that consumers were using the "serving size" disclosure on the nutrition facts panel to make purchasing and diet decisions that may no longer reflect the scientific understanding of nutrient values and average amount of food consumed. As a result, in the new Rule, the FDA has identified two different kinds of containers that will require a second column of information to be added to the nutrition facts panel:

  1. Food containers that contain between 150 percent and 200 percent of the RACC. (Voluntary)
  2. Food containers that are consumed at multiple sittings or which are shared, and contain from 200 percent and up to 300 percent of the RACC. (Required)

The first column will reflect the new format of the nutrition facts panel shown above for a single serving of the food. The second added column provides the same information in the same format, but for the entire contents of the package. In addition, in every case, where a package of food contains less than 200 percent of the RACC, the size of the container will be the serving size. The new format as provided by the FDA will appear as follows:

What do these Labeling Changes Mean to the Food Industry

An important consideration for the food industry is the impact these label requirements will have on package shape and size. These labeling changes are likely to require label redesign that is compliant with the new rules and possible even a package redesign to allow for the redesign of the nutrition panel. Many stylized containers have limited space for labeling, and with the increased label space demanded by the new nutrition facts panels, some companies will be required to re-design not only their labels, but their containers as well. Since a great deal of a food products marketing campaign is built around the appearance of the product and what it contains, these rules will not only affect the packaging/labelling of a given product but will have an impact on the marketing of the food product more than likely.

Compliance Dates and FDA Education Efforts

These two new Rules were both slated to go into effect on July 26, 2016, but each has a required compliance date of July 26, 2018. Businesses with less than $10 million in annual food sales have a longer compliance date of July 26, 2019. However, leading up to July 2018, the FDA will be launching a series of public outreach and education initiatives both online and in public media that are aimed at educating the consumer regarding the new labels. This increase in public awareness of the new labels will therefore grow as these compliance dates are realized. As a result, members of the industry are encouraged to begin transitioning to the new labels as soon as possible, particularly for those companies that will need to re-engineer their packaging as well as their labels.

At Thompson Coburn, we have a team of food industry attorneys that routinely counsel food companies on compliance with the new FDA rules promulgated under FSMA, the impact of new food marketing claims on the FTC's regulations and how to reconcile the two federal agencies requirements in a commercial environment. Our attorneys would be happy to answer any questions the food industry may have about these new requirements, their deadlines, and additional FDA/FTC compliance issues.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions