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How the Newest FDA Labeling Guidelines Will Affect the Food & Beverage Industry

How the Newest FDA Labeling Guidelines Will Affect the Food & Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry faces constant regulatory challenges and is heavily scrutinized by the FDA. And with new labeling regulations coming down the pipeline, these expectations will only become more complex. In this article, we will discuss what these new guidelines entail and how your company should expect to be affected throughout the coming months.

What are the New FDA Labeling Guidelines?

The primary difference between the old labeling requirements and the ones enacted this year centers around a refreshed nutrition label. Under the new guidelines, the iconic sticker will be updated to ensure consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. Here are some of the most important changes:

New Nutritional Label

1. A focus on nutrition

Multiple updates have been made to various scientific reports that were released in 2015 for the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for America. Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D have been updated to reflect data from those reports. Therefore, the portion of the nutrition label that details these daily values and helps consumers know exactly what they are consuming also had to be updated.

While the FDA will continue to require total fat, saturated fat, and trans-fat on the label, calories from fat has been removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. Added sugars as percent of daily value must also be included on the label.

2. Updates to serving sizes and daily values

Serving size information will also be receiving an upgrade. On the old label, this text was small and barely stood out from the text outlining the number of servings per container. With the new guidelines, the servings and serving size are both outlined in a notably larger font written in bold text. This has been done to provide a greater understanding of what the appropriate serving size of food for the particular item is and is intended to help consumers make healthier choices in their consumption behaviors.

3. Revised vitamin and mineral guidelines
The list of vitamins and minerals expected to be listed on the label is also being revised. Vitamin D, which is important for keeping healthy bones and teeth as well as regulating insulin, will now be included. Calcium, known to have blood health and immune-boosting capabilities, is still a label must-have. Potassium, a mineral recognized for keeping blood pressure low and preserving bone density, will also be included. Lastly, Vitamins A and C are no longer required but can be included on a voluntary basis.

How Will They Affect the Food & Beverage Industry?

    • Need for transparency
      Due in part to these new regulations and the way the food and beverage industry has been shifting over the last couple of years, consumers have begun prioritizing purchases based on their morals and beliefs, rather than loyalty to a specific brand. This shift has increased the need for brands to broadcast honesty and integrity as well as increase the transparency of their processes. New regulations over the years have ensured that brands can’t hide anything from their consumers.
      This is even more true in the current health crisis. With COVID-19 still a major concern throughout the world, consumers want to hear how companies are directly supporting their communities. This new way of looking at brands is part of what food and beverage companies need to begin considering when it comes to the new labeling; highlighting nutritional considerations and holding truthful communication with your customers is more important than ever. It is a smart move for modern brands to embrace the opportunity that the new labeling regulations can provide for authenticity.
    • Art creation and regulatory review
      Another possible consequence of these updated guidelines lies in your production chain. If your company has already drafted and printed labels for your current products, having to redraft and reprint them would be a massive blow to both your time-to-market as well as your bottom line. Mocking-up and approving a revised nutrition label that meets the new criteria may seem like a small detail, but it has great potential to throw off your production. It is best to get ahead of these regulation changes and begin updating your labels as soon as possible to avoid delays.
    • Possible regulatory complications and fines
      A more obvious effect of the new regulations is the penalties your company may face if you don’t comply. The FDA is a government agency, and there are often major consequences for skirting around rules and overlooking guidelines. In the case of these guidelines, a lapse in compliance could come with massive legal fines and eventually lead to customer complaints.
      Luckily, the FDA has stated that due to the complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are adding some flexibility into the new guidelines. “Our goal is to provide regulatory flexibility, where fitting, to help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic on product availability,” the agency recently stated. The temporary regulations allow for minor formulation changes without updating labels. So, if your company is having trouble keeping up with the updates, don’t expect to run into any legal trouble right away.

Right now, packaged food and beverage companies need to take a thoughtful approach to addressing the new labeling requirements. By embracing the call for transparency, getting on top of label creation, and ensuring their company stays within regulation, brands can mitigate risk and capitalize on any advantages that come from these new labeling guidelines.

A Document Management System (DMS) such as ENSUR can make it simple to adjust to new FDA guidelines. With our document control and specification management features, you can control all of your company’s documentation digitally from point of creation to distribution. So, when your industry is facing an upheaval of regulations standards, updating your documents and processes to maintain compliance is pain-free. Contact us today to learn more.

Tags: FDA compliance software, fda guidelines, food and beverage industry