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Nutrition Facts Labeling

PRIORITY POLICY

Nutrition Facts Labeling

Providing consumers and families with nutrition information to help them make healthy choices

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 requires companies to include the Nutrition Facts label on most packaged foods and beverages. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Nutrition Facts label to reflect the latest advances in nutrition science and consumer eating habits. The changes include: a larger text size that makes “calories” and “number of servings” more prominent; the amount and percent daily value of added sugars; and an adjustment to serving sizes to more accurately reflect typical portions.

The new labels will be mandatory on January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with more than $10 million in total sales and January 1, 2021, for all other manufacturers. Per its economic impact analysis of the final rule, the FDA estimates that the updated Nutrition Facts label will generate $78 billion in benefits to consumers over 20 years.

Recommendations

Strong policies can help children and families eat healthier foods and be active. RWJF offers specific policy recommendations to help ensure more children in the United States have consistent access to healthy foods from the earliest days of life, in order to help them grow up at a healthy weight.

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Featured Studies and Resources

SPOTLIGHT

Updates to Nutrition Facts Labels: Sugars

The updated Nutrition Facts label will, for the first time, include both the total amount and percent daily value of added sugars. Several studies have found that consumption of added sugars is associated with increased risk of obesity. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that added sugars should make up less than 10% of total daily calories. However, Americans ages 6 and older consume about 14% of their total daily calories from added sugars, with even higher amounts consumed by adults who are less physically active.

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SURVEY

Purchasing Decisions

Seventy-seven percent of adults report using the Nutrition Facts label to inform purchasing decisions, 79% report using the label often or sometimes when buying a product for the first time. Consumers report using the label most often to find out the nutrient contents or to compare nutrient contents between products.

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UPDATE

Trans Fat and Nutrition Labels

Trans fat, a type of fat that raises bad cholesterol levels and contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, first appeared on the  Nutrition Facts label in 2006. In 2015, the FDA determined that trans fat was not safe for use, and in June 2018, trans fat was officially eliminated from the food supply.

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Fast Facts

90%

According to USDA, 90% of Americans are deficient in potassium. The updated Nutrition Facts label will include total potassium levels, along with percent daily value.

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87%

In a 2018 national poll from the Center for Science in the Public interest, 87% of those surveyed support implementation of the updated Nutrition Facts label.

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29,000

Notwithstanding the official implementation dates of January 2020 and January 2021 for mandatory use of the updated Nutrition Facts label, more than 29,000 products already feature it.

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Data to Share

86% of patients surveyed at a health center incorrectly equated calories from a single serving with total calories in packaged foods. The updated Nutrition Facts label provides a ‘dual column’ that includes both per serving and per package information.
A 2017 study found 41% of participants couldn’t calculate the daily value percentage of calories in single food servings. The revised Nutrition Facts label helps consumers by featuring this information and eliminating the need to perform these types of calculations.