FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has announced new guidance for food manufacturers as the agency transitions to an updated version of the nutritional labels they place on food.
The new labels, first announced in 2016, have a larger font size for calories counts, a new space on the label for added sugars, and serving sizes that are more realistic to what Americans eat on average.
“Our update to the iconic Nutrition Facts label includes significant changes to help consumers make more informed dietary choices, and we are already seeing the new label on many products,” said Gottlieb in a press statement.
“The Nutrition Facts label hasn’t been meaningfully updated in decades, and so in transitioning to this new, more informative label, it is important that we provide careful guidance to food manufacturers and to consumers,” added the commissioner.
The new guidance includes a revised definition of dietary fiber in food. Before, dietary fiber had been defined as any non-digestible carbohydrate, but now, for food labels, the term will only encompass non-digestible carbs that are proven to have health benefits.
The agency also announced new guidance for honey, maple syrup, and cranberry products to help them label added sugars on their nutritional labels.
“While honey and maple syrup meet the definition of added sugars, we heard concerns from industry that declaring added sugars on their single ingredient products may lead consumers to think their pure products – such as a jar of honey or maple syrup – actually contain added table sugar because added sugars are listed on the Nutrition Facts label,” Gottlieb said. “We also heard from cranberry juice manufacturers that their products need to be sweetened for palatability because cranberries have less natural sugar than other fruits.”
The new guidelines will also advise manufacturers on more evidence-based serving sizes, with a guidance on the serving sizes that Americans typically eat for a variety of foods.
The agency had previously proposed extending the compliance date for companies to switch to the new labels. While the change was originally intended to take place in July 2018, the FDA has now proposed a compliance date of January 1, 2020 for large food manufacturers and January 1, 2021 for smaller food manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales.
“All Americans should have access to the best nutrition information for making healthy choices for themselves and their families,” said Gottlieb.
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