During our March 3 Facebook Live event featuring Elaine Meloan, Manager of Food Labeling Services, we were not able to answer all the questions posted in the comments due to time limitations. However, we were able to answer all those questions and post them here.
+ Will there be any delay to the July 26, 2018 compliance to harmonize the potential USDA's rule for the GMO statement?
There has been no indication of this, however, with the lack of clarification on a number of issues for labeling (dietary fiber, added sugars), it would not surprise me if they decided to extend the compliance date. However, companies should always move forward based on the current compliance date and any extra time given will be an added bonus. You may need to make some corrections based on clarifications yet to be published but it will be a lot less stressful if you already have the basic information for your labels in place.
*Update: The compliance date has been extended to January 1, 2020 for companies that have $10 million or more in annual food sales and January 1, 2021 for companies that have less than $10 million in annual food sales.
+ In the Nutrition Facts label, are there any changes to the Recommended Daily Values?
Yes, most of the nutrients have changes to their Daily Reference Values (DRVs) and Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs). The new nutrition regulations have been added to the eCFR and can be found under 21CFR101.9. About a third of the way through, you will come across two tables showing the new RDIs and DRVs. In addition to values that have changed, two nutrients (added sugars and choline) have values established under the new regulations. When looking at the tables, be aware that some of the units of measure have changed. For instance, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E are no longer declared in IU.
+ What is a "smaller company"?
For the purposes of complying with the new nutrition labeling regulations, FDA has defined a smaller company as one that has less than $10 million in annual food sales. These companies have until July 26, 2019 to comply with the regulations.
+ Do you recommend a particular location for the warning "Do Not Consume Raw"?
I'm assuming that this is for a food regulated under FDA and not USDA. FDA does not have specific requirements for this type of statement. However, since this statement appears to be one that is important to consumers from the perspective of food safety, I would make sure that the statement is prominent and conspicuous on the package. It will depend on the food and the rest of your labeling as to where to place it for the greatest impact. For instance, if it is a food or is similar to a food that consumers have normally eaten straight out of the package, you may want to consider placing the statement on the principal display panel.
+ What is your feeling about the current level of response from ingredient suppliers?
I believe that most of them are doing the best they can to get the updated nutrition information for their customers. Suppliers are often in the same situation as finished goods manufacturers and need to get information from their suppliers on the ingredients they use. With questions still lingering about added sugars and dietary fiber, it is difficult to always know how to report the information.
+ We're only a small company, just a little over $10M business - how much time do we have to use up our wrappers after the deadline?
In the new guidance document FDA has stated that any product labeled on or after the compliance date must bear a nutrition label that meets the new nutrition labeling requirements. So any labels that bear the nutrition information under the old regulations cannot be used after the compliance date. Considering that some products have a long shelf life, we may see products with the old labels for a couple years after the compliance date.
+ Our suppliers and suppliers' suppliers aren't going to be ready to provide new nutrition info until 4th quarter of 2017. So can I do anything ahead of time to be prepared?
Numerous ingredients will not have any changes to their basic nutrition profile. For instance, salt is still just sodium and chloride, granulated sugar is just sugar (also considered added sugar) and plain oil still has the same fatty acid breakdown as it had before. Update any nutrition profiles that you can. After that, identify ingredients that will have changes and flag those to know how many formulas are impacted.
Evaluate your serving sizes for each product using the new reference amounts customarily consumed (RACC) to see if your serving size will change. Also determine if any of your products will require the dual format. Get your packaging layouts determined so that you can just drop the data into the nutrition facts panel once you are able to get it updated.
+ Do you do FDA as well as USDA food label compliance reviews?
AIB Food Labeling Services can provide either FDA or USDA compliance reviews for food labels. View all our labeling solutions here. Our initial focus was for FDA regulated foods but we have since added USDA foods.
+ What is considered added sugars? In case of fermented products in which sugars have been consumed afterward to produced alcohol...do we need to declare those?
There is a discussion in the comments to the final rule about wines with less than 7% alcohol by volume (regulated by FDA) and how FDA does not have adequate information to assess the degradation of added sugars during the fermentation process. So if your wine has added sugar, you would need to make and keep records to document any reduction in the amount of added sugars in the product.
+ For those of us that had the red AIB food labeling books that were to get updates, are those going to be sent to add to our binders?
Now that the new regulations are out, we do plan to issue an update for the AIB International Food Labeling Book, “Food Labeling: Requirements for FDA Regulated Products”. We are still waiting for additional clarification on some of the requirements and are also evaluating the format we are using to provide the information.
+ Are there certain nutrients that suppliers are required to provide us? Like what about mono- and polyunsaturates?
Actually, suppliers are not required to provide nutritional information, however, it is definitely good customer service for them to do so! Most of them do try to accommodate their clients so if you are needing additional information, try reaching out to them.