Planning for New Nutrition Labels
In May 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced nutrition labels on all prepared and packaged food will get a make-over to be more transparent, more informative, and easier to understand. After having been delayed a few times, enforcement of federal menu labeling rules will begin on May 7, 2018.
At CBORD®, we began preparing for this transition some time ago, and many foodservice organizations have already adopted the new labeling. While this process has been far from simple, consumers and dietitians agree that a new design with more straightforward information is definitely something to celebrate.
Why the change?
Front-facing, at-a-glance graphics promoting "heart-healthy," "light," and "low-sodium" food choices have been introduced to steer consumers to healthier options and better inform them about the food they choose. Current nutritional labels provide information about nutrients and fats consumed in an average day. However, these highly regulated nutritional labels have not been revised since 1990.
According to Robert Califf, the former Commissioner of the FDA responsible for the changes, the new labels are meant to be a "valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food-choices." Advancements in understanding the connections between diet and disease, along with consumers who are increasingly discerning about what they eat, have led to this organizational and informational overhaul of the labels.
What are the new features?
We've all been there; standing in an aisle of the grocery store trying to stay out of the way of other shoppers, squinting at nutrition labels, trying to find the information we need, and finding it quickly.
Currently nutrition labels are conservative in their accessibility for the average consumer. Each ingredient and piece of information is printed in fonts of the same size; distinguishing between regular and bold fonts is the extent to which relevant information is organized. The new labels make the most relevant consumer information both large and bold to better highlight important facts.
Serving sizes are also getting an upgrade. (Does anyone eat just ¼ cup of ice cream in one sitting?) The new labels will have more accurate serving sizes to better reflect eating habits of the public.
How should I prepare?
According to Today's Dietitian, the new labels present a unique opportunity for the public to address health issues related to food such as diabetes and obesity. The revised nutrition labels will "reduce confusion by offering more relevant information to help consumers make healthier purchase decisions. The updated serving sizes will reflect more realistic consumption amounts, and the total calories listed in a larger size may raise awareness and help reduce overconsumption."
While this is welcome news for consumers, it presents unique challenges for healthcare foodservice and retail operations that depend on accuracy for compliance with the new regulations. The nutrition labeling functions in Foodservice Suite® and NetNutrition® have updated fields to comply with the new label standards for patient meals and retail operations. Check out our on-demand webinar Grab Ideas and Go for Healthcare Retail to learn more about nutrition labels for solutions to accurate nutrition labeling.
Foodservice operations in every industry have become creative in how they inform the public; read our blog post CBORD Explains: 'The Final Rule' for Food Labeling to learn more. Sweeping regulation changes like these come once in a generation which is why the FDA has provided a large window of opportunity for companies to implement the necessary changes. It can seem overwhelming at first, but we have the tools you need as you begin to update your labels.