What You’ll Need To Know About The FDA Label Changes

What you need to know about the FDA label changes

A new decade is arriving. 2020 will bring a new FDA labeling system quite different than what we’ve been used to for the past 20+ years. Not only is there new lingo, there are new nutritional requirements. So, before you get too confused by what you’re going to be seeing on labels everywhere, read this article so you understand what to expect with all the new FDA nutritional labeling changes. 

Why Is The FDA Changing the Label?

There are a few reasons the FDA decided to change the labels for foods and supplements. One is that there is a large portion of the U.S. population at-risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and more. With the new label, people will have an easier time understanding what they are taking, and eating. 

There is also a hope that the new design will significantly increase the use of the label which will result in people making more informed choices leading to healthier options. 

The New Label Vs. The Old

Label switchover compliance is based on sales revenue. If a manufacturer has over $10 million in sales, then the deadline is January 1, 2020 for a complete label redo. If the manufacturer is under $10 million in sales, then they have an additional year and must comply by January 1, 2021. Due to the way American’s eat, along with advancements in the science of nutrition, we now have a more effective way to make better informed decisions regarding our health from what we eat to the vitamins we take.

What this means to consumers is, depending on the product and how quickly companies comply, labels may look a bit different.

What will the label changes be for food?

  • The look and feel of the label will remain similar, so that’s good news. However, font size for calories will be larger, as will the info for serving size and servings per container in an effort to allow consumers a more educated purchase decision. The Daily Value of iron, calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium must be listed, and the rest of the vitamins are optional for manufacturers. Lastly for this section is the footnote we’ve all come to be familiar with. It will now look more like: “*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.” 
  • The facts will also be displayed in household language to resonate with you, the consumer. 
  • Sugar will now be represented in grams. And, a second line showing the amount and %DV of added sugar will be required. 
  • The “calories from fat” section is being removed. 
  • Sodium, dietary fiber, and Vitamin D will all have new Daily Values based on new research findings.
  • A 2-column label providing information for a single or dual serving will now be seen on many products.
  • Fluoride was not required or permitted to be listed on the nutritional facts labels. With the new labels, it is now voluntary, though it does not have a %DV. 

Interestingly, from now on the information that will be provided on the new labels has to be based on what is going to be eaten, not how many servings are per package. For example, a 24 oz. can of soda was previously made for two servings but will now be one serving with the appropriate labeling information. Consumers will now have more transparency from the labels and will be better able to judge nutritional and caloric intake.

What about label changes for vitamins and supplements?

There will be similar changes for the Supplement Fact label seen on all vitamins, supplements, and medication bottles. There aren’t any nutritional facts allowed since vitamins and supplements aren’t considered food, even though they fall under the FDA jurisdiction. What you can expect are new units of measurement for some nutrients, revision of the daily values, and new nutrients now having listed Daily Values.

  • The name and quantity of each ingredient, along with “Serving Size”. “Servings Per Container” must be listed if the daily quantity is more than one tablet. Example: 1 serving per day in a bottle of 100 pills, the “Servings Per Container” does not have to be listed. 
  • If there are calories in the serving, then the ingredients from where the calories came from must be listed.
  • “Amount per Serving” may also be listed as “Each Serving Contains”, “Amount Per X-amount of Tablets”, or other equivalent verbiage. 
  • %DV is how the percentage of Daily Value is written on labels. 
  • Proprietary Blends are listed as such.
  • Choline, a nutrient most adults don’t get enough of, will now be listed on labels if it’s present in equal to or greater than 2 percent of the daily 11mg requirement. 
  • For women of childbearing age, be on the lookout for DFE on the label. That’s the Daily Folate Equivalent, aka Folic Acid, which the RDA is 600 mcg DFE for pregnancy and 500 mcg DFE for lactating moms. Otherwise, the new RDA requirement for folate is 400 mcg DFE for most adults.
  • Vitamins A, D, and E will be listed in mg., or mcg. 
  • Sugar will now be listed as %DV so you know how much sugar is in your diet.
  • If a vitamin or mineral is present but less than 2% of the daily value, then it could be listed as 0% on the label. 
  • Vitamin A is now in RAE or Retinol Activity Equivalents. Read more about Vitamin A.

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The Label Jargon

All the terms being used can get confusing for many people. Let’s break it down a bit. 

  • DRI: Dietary Reference Intake. These values are based on gender and age. There are separate guidelines for pregnant and nursing women. The DRI is made up of the minimum daily needs, and maximum UL for each and every nutrient. 
  • EAR: Estimated Average Requirement. EAR is one of the values making up the DRI. It is an average requirement estimate used by dieticians and nutrition researchers for creating group diet plans. Most of us don’t need to worry about this value. 
  • RDA: Recommended Dietary Allowance is for 97-98% of the population, and is calculated from EAR plus twice the standard deviation…which is the low end of average. 
  • AI: Adequate Intake
  • UL: Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the highest amount of a value you can take without having negative side effects. 
  • IU: International Units is changing over to milligrams (mg) and micrograms (mcg).
  • DV: The Daily Value is an estimated number based on a 1,000-2,000 calorie diet. 

Dietary Components To Limit

We all know there are certain ‘ingredients’ in our foods that we should limit in order to live a healthier lifestyle. It isn’t always so easy to do, of course. However, the following components should be limited. For your health.

Sugar: Less than 10 percent of your calories should come from sugar per day. That’s not to say an occasional indulgence day isn’t allowed. Unless, of course, it isn’t allowed. 

Saturated Fats: Like sugar, less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats.

Sodium: Less than 2,300 mgs of sodium is the recommended daily allowance, which is down 100 mgs from 2,400 mgs. 

The only changes our vitamins, supplements, and foods are making are in the label. You can feel confident knowing that what you’ve been taking will still be the same, it just looks a little different on the outside. 

While it seems like the supplement label changes are big, and somewhat confusing, they’re meant to keep the general population healthier. And, by staying healthier, we can live longer and lead more productive lives.


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For more information on the label change, please refer to this guide.

Related reading:

The Clean Label Revolution and Dietary Supplements





Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.