USA & Canada Food Labeling: 2016 New Regulations

On May 27, 2016, the FDA published new rules on Nutrition Facts labels for packaged foods. The deadline to change the Nutrition Facts tables are respectively January 1, 2020 for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales; January 1, 2021 for those with less than $10 million sales and July 1, 2021 for manufacturers of single-ingredient sugars such as honey and maple syrup and certain cranberry products.

On December 14, 2016, Health Canada also published changes to Canadian Nutrition Facts tables and list of ingredients for packaged foods. Manufacturers have 5 years from that date to change their food labels.

If most of the changes relate to the items and format of the Nutrition Facts tables themselves, it should be noted that the references for daily values used in the calculation of the “% Daily Value” (%DV) have also been changed (increased or decreased, depending on the nutrients). Examples include potassium DV increased from 3,500 to 4,700 mg, sodium decreased from 2,400 to 2,300 mg and total fat. And even though those reference daily values are often the same for both countries, caution should be exercised as there are some differences (e.g. fat). Approximately 30 out of 158 Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs), used to calculate serving sizes, have also been revised and 25 have been added. These changes are less often being discussed.

For Canada, there are also some changes to the formatting of the ingredients list.

An upcoming article will review the differences between US and Canada in terms of labels and Nutrition Facts Tables for packaged foods. This article highlights the respective changes in the Nutrition Facts tables in the 2 countries.

Changes to Nutrition Facts Table – FDA

2016 new nutrition facts label-FDA

  • Serving Size (1): The serving size mention is larger and bolder. Some serving sizes have been revised to reflect what people eat and drink (e.g. ice cream has increased from ½ cup to 2/3 cup) (See RACCs.). For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings (e.g. soda or ice cream), containing 200-300% of the RACC, both per serving and per container nutritional information is required (dual column packaging).
  • Calories (2): The calories mention is larger and bolder.
  • Fats (3): “Calories from fat” has been removed. Daily value for total fat is increased from 65 to 78g.
  • Dietary Fiber: The definition of dietary fiber has been changed.
  • Sugars (4): “Sugars” was changed to “Total Sugars” and “Includes Added Sugars” has been added. Added sugars are required to be expired in grams and in % Daily Value. A Daily Value of 50 g has been defined for “Added Sugars”.
  • % Daily Values: Reference daily values for some required nutrients and macro-nutrients have been changed:
Old Daily Value New Daily Value
Total fat 65 g 78 g
Total carbohydrate 300 g 275 g
Dietary fiber 25 g 28 g
Sodium 2,400 mg 2,300 mg
Potassium 3,500 mg 4,700 mg
Calcium 1,000 mg 1,300 mg
Vitamin D 10 mcg 20 mcg
  • List of Nutrients (5): Vitamin D and potassium are now required, whereas Vitamins A and C are no longer required. The amount of nutrients must be declared in mg or mcg, in addition to the % DV.
  • Footnote (6): The wording of the footnote has changed to better explain what the percentage of daily values mean. The new text says: “The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Changes to Nutrition Facts Table – Health Canada

2016 new nutrition facts label-changes-Canada

  • Serving Size: The font size for the serving size mention is increased. Regulated reference amounts (RA) are used to define serving sizes and to allow for more consistent serving sizes among similar products. The units of measure used to express the serving size (e.g. number of cookies, grams, etc.) are also defined by the same tables “Table of Reference Amounts for Food”.
  • Calories: The calories mention is larger and a bold line has been added below that mention.
  • Sugars: A daily value for sugars has been defined (100 g) and the % Daily Value added for total sugars.
  • % Daily Values: Reference daily values for some required nutrients and macro-nutrients have been changed:
Old Daily Value New Daily Value
Total fat 65 g 75 g
Fibres (Canadian spelling) 25 g 28 g
Sodium 2,400 mg 2,300 mg
Potassium 3,500 mg 4,700 mg
Calcium 1,100 mg 1,300 mg
Iron 14 mcg 18 mcg
  • List of Nutrients: The inclusion of potassium is now required, whereas Vitamins A and C are no longer required. The amount of nutrients must be declared in mg, in addition to the % DV.
  • Footnote: The wording of the footnote has changed to better explain to consumers the relevance of the percentages listed. The new text says: “5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot.

Changes to Ingredients List – Health Canada

  • Appearance for “Ingredients”: The word “Ingredients” is in bold type. The individual ingredients are in black font, in upper and lower case letters, on a white or neutral background. There is a minimum type height required. Bullets or commas separate each ingredient.
  • Sugars: Sugars are now grouped to help consumers understand how much sugar is added to the food (as the ingredients are listed in order of weight).
  • Food colors: Colors are now listed by their individual common names
  • Allergens, gluten sources, added sulphites: The same font style rules apply to this declaration. And the word “Contains” is in bold type.

For any question or comment, or if you require assistance for your bilingual Health Canada compliant food labels, please contact us.

Glossary/Definitions:

  • Serving Size: The amount of a food or drink that is generally consumed.
  • Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs): The “Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed” (RACC) is the amount of a food and drink generally consumed, as defined by the FDA, and used by food manufacturers to determine the serving size to be used in the Nutrition Facts Tables.
  • Daily Values: Daily Values are the amounts of a nutrient that people should consume or not exceed in one day in their food intake. They are defined using the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) from the US Institute of Medicine.
  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): Dietary Reference Intakes are daily nutrient recommendations for healthy individuals, made by institutions such as the US Institute of Medicine. They are used by the FDA and Health Canada to define daily values that are used to calculate the % Daily Values on Nutrition Facts tables.
  • % of Daily Value: On the Nutrition Facts table, the % of daily value is the amount of a nutrient that one serving size of that food contains, expressed as a % of the recommended amount of that nutrient which a healthy adult should consume in one day.

References used in this article:

FDA – US Nutrition Facts Labels
Health Canada – Food Labeling – Nutrition Facts Tables

• Food labelling changes https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-labelling-changes.html
• Serving Sizes and Reference Amounts http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/requirements-and-guidance/labelling/industry/nutrition-labelling/nutrition-facts-table/eng/1389198568400/1389198597278?chap=2
• Canada’s New Food Labelling Regulations, and eBook From ESHA Research