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Food Labels Revamped: New FDA Guidelines

by Elizabeth Freeman on 01/29/2016 | 4 Minute Read

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Out with the old and in with the newly proposed nutritional labels! Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to nutrition. Since the 1990s, the FDA has given labels the task of informing the greater public of nutritional benefits with an evolved focus to trans fats in 2006. Food labels are being revamped and consumer patterns and science are leading the way with more advanced findings. As part of the proposed updates by the FDA, serving sizes would reflect actual consumption alongside key elements such as calories, serving sizes, and percent daily value becoming more prominent with a two-year compliance date. Revamps will focus on new nutritional findings, realistic serving sizes, and overall design.

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Three new changes to look out for:

• Nutritional findings

• Serving sizes

• Design changes


Nutritional findings:

New labels will ensure that people are aware of what exactly a product contains and how it affects their daily nutrition.


Added to the Label:

Vitamin D and potassium added to the label, alongside iron and calcium.


No Longer Required:

Vitamins A and C are no longer required.

Calories from fat no longer required. Types of fat are more important than amounts, so trans-, saturated, and total fat will be the new standard.


Serving sizes and packaging

Labels will no longer report what we should eat, but what is typically consumed in one sitting. Changes will also be reflected in the packaging. Package size can be a determining factor in how much people eat and drink. Both a 12-ounce and 20-ounce container will be considered one serving under the new guidelines (see ). The consumer will be responsible for larger or smaller servings based on the nutritional information provided.


Design Changes

The changes to the labels are more about rearranging information than razing the old system. Serving size will be placed on the first line, most likely as a reminder of what a serving size should look like. Calories will now be on the second line and prominently displayed. Percentages of updated daily values will now be on the left rather than on the right. The new elements will be displayed in larger type, and added sugar, potassium and vitamin D values, and a new footnote are yet to be determined.


Are these changes good?

These changes are huge win for consumers. The newly proposed labels reflect what is relevant. First the design of the new label highlights the calories and makes it easy to read at quick glance. Second the label reflects what is typically consumed in one sitting, which will help consumers make more informed choices. Most important of all, the new label will require the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars, which will emphasize the crazy amounts of sugar are in many processed foods. For example, Coke, containing 240 calories, would provide 120% of your daily added sugar intake. Drink a Coke and you are done for the day. The FDA is hoping by highlighting sugar content, it will help consumers make healthier choices and help with the US obesity epidemic.

As one might anticipate, many companies especially those in the soda or sugar industries are not too happy about these changes. The costs for companies may be huge, but the cost to our society and to the health of each and every one of us is farther greater.



The FDA is aware of how monumental these changes will be and will give a two-year implementation date. Visit FDA for more detailed information regarding these and all labeling and nutritional guidance regulations as they impact packaging designers, their clients, and consumers.

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Written By: Lauren Casgren-Tindall

Lauren Casgren-Tindall, Principal & Creative Director of Creme de Mint Design, has been creating powerful, innovative designs over the past 15 years for companies such as Avon, Victoria’s Secret, Bliss and Benihana. In addition, she has worked as an international design consultant for clients in Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands. She primarily design branding and packaging specializing in the specialty foods/beverage and health/beauty industries and has been awarded for her food package design and branding from PRINT, HOW International Design Awards, Graphic Design USA Magazine, Core 77, and 2 ADDYs from the American Advertising Federation.