Compliance Dates for the New FDA Nutrition Label Format

Posted on July 25, 2016 by

The FDA's new rule for nutrition facts panels goes into effect July 26, 2016. The compliance date is July 26, 2018, but smaller businesses with annual food sales that are less than $10 million get an extra year to comply--until July 26, 2019.

Questions, Questions

We've gone over the changes and dates already, but like a lot of rules, the more you look at them the more questions you have. One of the big ones percolating through food industry circles is "what exactly do the dates mean?" Does the grace period only apply to businesses and products that are already in the market? Do new products and businesses that are created or introduced on or after July 26 of this year have to use the new format right away since the new rule will be in effect then? How do you actually, practically, comply?

Our Answer

Here's the best information we have, whether you're already in business or just getting started:

EDIT (March 23, 2017): The FDA originally said that the new labels had to be on foods that "are initially introduced into interstate commerce on or after the compliance date." That was apparently confusing, so they've changed their thinking and are now pegging compliance to the date the food is labeled.

EDIT (March 23, 2017): So anything that's labeled on or after July 26, 2018 (and July 26, 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales) must use the new label. But anything that's labeled before those dates "does not need to be in compliance with the new labeling requirements, and therefore, does not need to bear the new nutrition label." They don't care about where the food is in the distribution chain, only about when you put on the label.

Sooner is Better

It's always a good idea to make the transition sooner rather than later. According to the FDA: "We generally encourage industry to comply with new labeling regulations as quickly as feasible, however. Thus, when industry members voluntarily change their labels, it is appropriate that they incorporate any new requirements that have been published as final regulations up to that time."

So that's our best understanding of the general requirements right now. We'll keep you posted if any other information comes along or anything changes. If you have specific questions or concerns about your situation, you can always contact the FDA. For more general questions, send us an email or leave a comment below.

Learn something? Check out similar posts:
Labeling Rules And Guidelines   Food Label News  

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