The Food and Drug Administration (FSA) is expected to publish a proposed rule to reform Nutrition Facts and related rules next year, although “a firm publication date has not been set”, a spokesman toldFoodNavigator-USA: “FDA is working diligently to assemble a proposed rule.”
Serving sizes, daily values, additional nutrient declarations?
The FDA would not discuss the scope of the rule, but is expected to look at serving sizes, daily values, adjustments to label formats and additional nutrient declarations.
The GMA’s ‘Get Smart: What’s Coming in Nutrition Labeling’ webinar – on November 3 – will “outline the anticipated scope of this rulemaking in order to prepare food companies for the coming changes”.
Less is more?
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at last month’s American Dietetic Association (ADA) conference, Karlis Nollendorfs, senior customer insights manager at General Mills, said: “I’d like to see wholegrains added as I think consumers find it hard to work out if they are getting enough.
“However, the panel is already pretty comprehensive, so if anything this could be an opportunity to simplify it.”
Dr Adam Drewnowski, drector of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was also at the ADA conference, said he would also like to see something “simpler, more direct”, adding: “I’d like calorie information to be clearer. This bag of chips contains xx calories.”
Asked what we could do without, Marion Nestle, professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said:”Clutter. Percent calories from fat. Small serving sizes that make everything look healthier.”
‘Ridiculously tiny’ serving sizes?
Lobby group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), has also called for the FDA to take a fresh look at serving sizes, arguing that packs featuring "ridiculously tiny" serving sizes made certain products appear in a more favorable light.
But simply making serving sizes bigger was not without its own risks, cautioned Nestle.
“The serving size issue is complicated and I will be interested to see what FDA does with it. The old serving sizes were based on what people reported eating decades ago. They seemed small when first published. Now they seem ridiculous.
“But because serving sizes are not intuitively obvious, larger servings might encourage people to eat more. I have no idea what FDA will do with this. If they base the sizes on NHANES [National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey], they will still be too small.”
How should daily values be calculated?
Meanwhile, the issue of what criteria underpinned the daily values found on the Nutrition Facts panel was also a “huge battle in the profession these days”, she added.
“The EAR (Estimated Average Requirements approach) has the advantage of not encouraging excessive consumption, but it makes food products look more nutritious and that has its own set of problems.”
Changes to the way DVs are calculated - which were first proposed in an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) back in 2007, could also have broad ramifications for the dietary supplements trade.
Why does it matter?
If - as some predict - the FDA proposes that percent daily values for key nutrients are based on EARs instead of RDAs (recommended dietary allowances) – the dosage needed to get 100% of your daily value would drop considerably, as EARs are lower than RDAs.
As a result, some consumers could mistakenly believe they are getting all the nutrients they need from their foods and might no longer deem it necessary to buy dietary supplements, argue trade associations.
Speaking to our sister publication NutraIngredients-USA earlier this year, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) chief executive Steve Mister said: “Our strong suspicion is that they will come up with something we don’t want.”
He added: “Going by the EAR would push down all of the numbers so less healthy foods would seem more healthy. We believe the only logical basis for the daily value is the highest RDA or Adequate Intake (AI) established by the Institute of Medicine.”
Click here to find out more about the GMA’s ‘Get Smart: What’s Coming in Nutrition Labeling’ webinar.