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Coming soon to a supplement label near you

Coming soon to a supplement label near you

Food and dietary supplement labels will be changing right in front of consumers’ eyes. Some already are. And that’s a good thing—but brands must be ready.

In 2016, FDA announced its Final Rule requiring both the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts boxes on product labels get updated to reflect new scientific information and to help consumers make more informed choices. It subsequently extended the compliance deadline, mandating that most manufacturers complete these changes by January 2020, although small producers get an extra year to comply. The labels on store shelves already are changing as manufacturers begin phasing in these new requirements.

Some of these revisions were welcomed by the industry. One of the primary changes is new percent Daily Value (%DV) for some essential nutrients to replace outdated science that was 20 to 30 years old. These updated values reflect what we know now about how much average consumers need of these nutrients and what their daily diets are likely to provide. It turns out, we need more of some nutrients than previously thought and less of others.

In some cases, the new label requirements have led brands to reformulate rather than relabel. Some brands want to be able to declare 100 percent of the DV or continue to market their products as “good” or “excellent” sources of a particular nutrient (terms that are tied to the Daily Values). So rather than change labels, manufacturers chose to change ingredient levels. New formulations mean new safety analyses and new stability tests to keep the claimed percentages constant.

FDA also is mandating additional label information and changing the required vitamins and minerals that must be disclosed on the label. For example, the amount and percent Daily Value of sugars added to a product must be disclosed. Vitamins A and C will no longer be mandatory on the label, but vitamin D and potassium will be declared along with calcium and iron. Still other changes include changing units of measurement for vitamins A, D and E from International Units, or IU, to more common measures of milligrams and micrograms. And folic acid—an important nutrient before and during pregnancy—will be listed as folate and be measured in micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (DFE).

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