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FDA Labeling and Serving Size Rules: What Sellers of Packaged Foods Need to Know

Hospitalitas Newsletter
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Restaurants and retail establishments that sell packaged foods should be mindful of the United States Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) nutrition labeling and serving size final rules and newly announced compliance dates. While foods served in restaurants and similar retail establishments are exempt from compliance with the final rules, establishments that sell packaged foods, such as bottled sauces, jarred foods, and prewrapped sandwiches, are not exempt and therefore must comply with the relevant nutrition labeling and serving size regulations by the new compliance dates.

Nutrition Labeling and Serving Size Requirements

The Nutrition Facts Labeling final rule, published in May 2016, amended the FDA's labeling regulations for conventional foods to "provide updated nutrition information to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices." The final rule updated the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared, along with a change in the units used to declare certain nutrients; provided updated Daily Reference Values and Reference Daily Intake values that are based on current dietary recommendations; amended requirements for foods manufactured for children under the age of four, as well as pregnant and lactating women; and revised the format and appearance of the Nutrition Facts label.

The companion Serving Size final rule, also published in May 2016, was issued by the FDA to define a single-serving container; require dual-column labeling for certain containers; update, modify, and establish several reference amounts customarily consumed (RACCs); and, among other things, make technical amendments to various aspects of the serving size regulations.

Compliance Deadlines

Both the Nutrition Facts Label and Serving Size final rules required compliance by July 26, 2018 for most manufactures and permitted an extra year of compliance until July 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales.

However, the FDA issued a final rule on May 3, 2018 extending the deadline for compliance by 18 months. This extends mandatory compliance to January 1, 2020 for most manufacturers, and until January 1, 2021 for those manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales.

The FDA opted to extend the compliance dates because the agency had "determined that additional time would help ensure that all manufacturers covered by the final rules have guidance from FDA to address, for example, certain technical questions we received after publication of the final rules, and that they have sufficient time to complete and print updated Nutrition Facts labels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance with the final rules."

For more information about how this issue may affect your business or related matters, please contact the author of this alert, Kyle Diamantas, or any member of Baker Donelson's FDA Group.

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