The Challenge of Proposed FDA Label Changes

Image courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Image courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new requirements for nutrition labeling for food and beverage products that will, among others, impact companies with ready-to-drink tea products. The FDA feels that the 20-year-old labeling systems would benefit from an overhaul to better inform consumers in their choices.

There are two fundamental parts to the proposed changes. The first addresses the actual nutritional information being reported. There would be a reevaluation of the daily nutritional values of certain vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D would be added, while Vitamins C and A would be eliminated. Additional information about sugar would be provided as well. Serving sizes would be most affected by the rules rewrite. The new serving sizes would better reflect how people actually eat and drink today. For example, a 20 ounce bottle of cola would no longer list the contents as two servings. A bottled drink that would usually be consumed during one sitting would need to have nutritional information reflect the values for the entire bottle. Larger bottles would list the amounts for a single serving, as well as the values if the entire bottle is consumed. The second change impacts the actual layout of the label. Calories would become more prominent. The chart showing daily nutritional values would be reversed so the percentages for each item would be listed before the actual amounts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, smaller companies are concerned about the added costs that will result from these changes. Calculating serving sizes and redesigning and printing labels can be a significant investment for small shops. Bottled rooibos company Rooibee Red Tea commented, noting that the new information would not fit on their existing label, requiring a redesign running as much as $30,000.

The FDA is currently accepting public comment both on the revised nutritional reporting and on the proposed redesign. The comment period closes on June 2, 2014. Once changes are approved, companies would have two years to come into compliance.

Source: Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration