The American Bakers Association (ABA) and the American Institute of Baking (AIB) International presented an expert panel at IBIEducate with the goal of shedding light on new food labeling requirements handed down to baking industry professionals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
ABA Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs and Corporate Secretary, Lee Sanders, moderated the discussion. Alongside Sanders were Flowers Foods Director of Regulatory Compliance, Valerie Wayland, AIB International Manager of Food Labeling, Elaine Meloan, and Covington and Burling, LLP Partner, Miriam Guggenheim.
The discussion opened with what the panel considered to be the biggest hurdle in the new nutrition facts label format – the dual format.
Twice the information, half the space
The FDA, Meloan explained, has come out with new requirements for packages that include 200% and 300% of the serving reference amount. What does this mean exactly? You know how you look at a package and see a serving size and wonder how exactly a person is only expected to eat three chips? The FDA is attempting to prevent under representation of actual servings by requiring packaging to provide nutrition facts for one serving and also for the whole package.
The challenge, she explained, is finding space on small packages where fitting one label, let alone two, is already a tight squeeze.
Wayland echoed this concern, saying that the biggest challenge at Flowers Foods so far has been trying to fit the new nutrition label into the same footprint as the existing one. Font can only be so small.
“If you follow the requirements that FDA has put in place with the font size and do everything according to their rule , we’ve found out it’s actually a bigger footprint on packages that space provides. So, we found that we had to modify some of the graphics, move things around, which did increase the cost of making the label change,” explained Ms. Wayland.
Meloan said when the FDA issued regulations for the new food labels in 2016, “they really weren’t complete. It’s kind of like FDA said we’ll issue some more guidance documents down the road. Over the years, we’ve been trying to pick up this information to know how we are to comply with various parts of the regulations.”
While the regulations were announced four years ago, the requirements for the labeling of added sugar and dietary fiber labeling have only recently been clarified, which “has been a really big challenge for the industry,” said Meloan.
Since IBIE, FDA has granted enforcement discretion deadline until July 1, 2020 to update the new nutrition facts label packaging revisions.
For more information about the nutrition facts label requirements and deadlines contact ABA’s Government Relations Team and save the date for the next Food Technical and Regulatory Affairs Professionals Group Conference June 3-4, 2020.