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New Food Labeling Regulations Are Coming. Are You Ready?

Posted By: SGK July 24, 2014

Many people gloss over nutritional facts on food labels. But that’s about to change. And it’s not just because people are becoming more conscientious about what they eat. It’s also because the information is about to become easier to understand and much harder to overlook on labels. 

In the European Union, EU Regulation 1169/2011 establishes a new legal framework for providing food information to consumers and ensure consumers have complete, unambiguous legible information about the foods they plan to eat prior to purchase. 

According to Stephen Kaufman, Chief Technology Officer at SGK, the most interesting part of the EU food labeling regulation concerns “pre-packaged foods offered for sale by means of distance communications.” Take for example, a candy bar sold through Amazon. The regulation states that, “information shall be available before the purchase is concluded,” and “without charging consumers supplementary costs.” This means brands need to coordinate the information printed on the package with information displayed on any number of online retail sites.

New food labeling regulations are coming to the U.S. too. For example, the FDA announced on February 27 that there will be:

• Much more prominent display of information such as serving sizes and calories

• A requirement that serving sizes reflect what people actually eat at a typical sitting, not the smaller amount they “should” be eating

• More prominent display of daily value percentages for nutrients, along with information about what the values mean

• Changes in label information based on new understanding of nutrition science – such as requiring information about added sugars, updating the daily values for certain “nutrients of public health significance,” emphasizing the importance of avoiding certain kinds of fat rather than focusing on total calories from fat, and so on. 

Congress is also taking action. For example, H.R.3147, recently referred to a House subcommittee, would require labels to prominently display on the front panel information such as the percentage of wheat or whole grains included in products marketed using terms such as “multigrain” or “whole wheat,” as well as the inclusion of sweeteners, coloring or flavoring. 

All of this is good for consumers, and it can be good for brands as well – but only if they handle the changes in a thoughtful and systematic way. 

Brands need to have a plan in place – or much better, a system like BLUE, which we offer for managing the many print and digital redesigns that will be required to deal with new regulations that are already in place in the European Union, and soon to come in other regions. 

For more details on the new food labeling regulations and what the brands in U.S. can expect, download Patterns Issue 1, 2014 – Participatory Marketing.