September 24, 2018

Nutrition Facts Label Turns 20

The black and white “Nutrition Facts” label that’s on almost all the food we buy turns 20 this year. For many of us, it’s hard to remember a time when food packaging lacked this fact box, but before it was mandated by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, nutritional labeling was provided by manufacturers on a voluntary basis.

The FDA issued the final rule for food nutrition labeling on Jan. 6, 1993. Over the years, consumers have increased their usage of the label when shopping. From 2002 to 2008, the percentage of US consumers reporting that they often use the label when shopping rose from 44 to 54 percent, according to data from the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Health and Diet Survey.

Increased consumer use of the labels has prompted some manufacturers to make changes in the foods they produce, according to the FDA. As an example, the agency cites how a decrease in consumption of trans fat led to a decrease in the use of hydrogenated oils.  Americans reduced their daily trans fat intake from 4.6 grams in the late 1990s to 1.3 grams in 2010, with most of the reduction coming after trans fat content was added to the food label in 2003, according to the agency.

The FDA  plans to update the Nutrition Facts label based on the latest nutrition recommendations. The agency wills seek public input on the proposed changes.

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