FDA Finalizes One Guidance and Issues a Draft Guidance Related to the Amended Nutrition Labeling Regulations

November 12, 2018By Riëtte van Laack

Last week FDA published a final guidance and a draft guidance related to the nutrition labeling regulation amendments published in 2016.

Final guidance

The Guidance, titled “Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Questions and Answers Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars, and Declaration of Quantitative Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals,” replaces FDA’s January 2017 draft guidance.

The draft guidance prompted more than 1600 comments to FDA. Although the final guidance added some clarification regarding certain aspects, several issues raised in the comments remain unresolved (e.g., the requirement to declare added sugars on single ingredient sources of sugars, such as honey).

The final guidance is 7 pages longer than the draft guidance. As with the draft guidance, the section on added sugars labeling is by far the largest section.  It is also the section with the most changes.  Among others, the final guidance includes 7 additional Q&As on added sugar declaration.  Also, the order of the Q&As has been mixed up, making it difficult to read; some of the answers refer to answers that come later thus requiring a lot of paging back and forth.  The calculations remain complicated and it remains to be seen if this guidance document provides sufficient clarity.  Likely, FDA inspectors and industry will need further education and examples to make sure that the amount of added sugars declared on a product containing fruit juice concentrate is correct.

FDA also corrected some of its rounding criteria for minerals and vitamins. Companies would be well-advised to review the revised table and accompanying text.

Draft guidance

FDA published a long-awaited draft guidance addressing the new requirements related to single-serving containers, and mandatory and voluntary dual-column labeling. As with other nutrition labeling guidance, the draft guidance uses a Q&A format.  Guidance on this subject is needed: the requirements for single serving containers and dual column labeling for packages that contain at least 200 percent and up to and including 300 percent of the applicable reference amount customarily consumed (RACC), e.g., a 75-g bag of chips that is 250 percent of the RACC of 30 grams for chips, constitute a major amendment to the nutrition labeling requirements.

Comments must be submitted by January 4, 2019, to be considered by FDA before it begins work on the final guidance document.   Since the compliance date for companies with annual food sales of 10 million or more is January 1, 2020, FDA is on a tight timeline.