Milk would no longer qualify as an excellent source of vitamin D or a good source of potassium in new-look Nutrition Facts panel

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Changes to the Nutrition Facts panel could have a negative effect on consumer perceptions of the nutritional profile of dairy foods, warns IDFA
Changes to the Nutrition Facts panel could have a negative effect on consumer perceptions of the nutritional profile of dairy foods, warns IDFA

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FDA proposals to increase the RDI for certain nutrients as part of an overhaul of the Nutrition Facts panel mean that milk would no longer qualify as an excellent source of vitamin D or a good source of potassium, while some cheeses and yogurts could lose their eligibility for excellent source of calcium claims, say dairy firms. 

In comments​ ​submitted to the agency about the new-look labels, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says they “have the potential to significantly change consumers’ perceptions of the nutritional profiles of certain foods”.

The proposed increase in the daily values for vitamin D (up from 10 mcg to 20 mcg); potassium (up from 3,500 mg to 4,700mg); and calcium (up from 1,000 mg to 1,300mg) means many dairy foods will “appear to have a lower nutritive value, even if no changes have been made to the product”, ​claims IDFA.

“This may be particularly true for foods and beverages such as dairy products that are naturally nutrient-rich, or that may not be able to modify nutrient levels to accommodate newly proposed daily values because of specific provisions in the standards of identity.”

FDA has said in past that a variety of foods should qualify for nutrient content claims without the need for fortification

In the past, FDA has said that nutrient content claims should not just apply to fortified foods, it adds.

"FDA has previously recognized the value in ensuring that nutrient content claim criteria allow a variety of foods to qualify without the need for fortification. When the agency initially defined the term ‘excellent source,’ it recognized that the criteria should be consistent with the levels of nutrients occurring naturally in foods, and that definitions for terms should allow for a reasonable number of foods to make the claim.”

Assuming a new DV of 4,700 mg for potassium, says the National Yogurt Association, “citrus juices, bananas and potato chips would provide at least 10% DV and could be promoted as good sources of potassium.

“Milk, yogurt and several types of beans and fish/seafood, however, would provide only 8-9% DV,and while many of these foods are among the top sources of potassium in the US diet, manufacturers could not inform consumers through nutrient content claims that these foods are important sources of potassium.”

Will dried milk and concentrated whey count towards ‘added sugars’?

The National Dairy Council (click HERE​) meanwhile, is alarmed by other proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, particularly the move to list added sugars.

Dairy ingredients containing lactose (milk sugar) are routinely added to foods for reasons other than adding sweetness, for example serving as salt replacers, or to increase the protein content of foods, says the NDC.

But the FDA’s proposed definition of added sugars - which includes “naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component” -​ could mean that non-fat dry milk, dry whole milk, some forms of concentrated whey and dried whey, and milk and whey permeate would all be classed as 'added sugars' owing to their lactose content.

And this could cause real confusion, fears the National Yogurt Association, which says the “FDA should clarify and confirm that such ingredients would not​ be considered to be ‘added sugars’.”

Confusion all around

If FDA does not do this, it warns, “food made with dry whole milk would be required to declare added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label, but a food made with milk, concentrated milk or reconstituted milk would not,” despite ​the fact that the lactose level might be identical.

“Such inconsistencies in labeling of foods made with dairy based ingredients could lead to confusion not only on the part of the consumer, but also for those in food manufacturing and agency compliance officials.” 

Click HERE​ and HERE​ for more reaction to the added sugars proposal.

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