FAQ - Nutrition Labeling

When does nutrition labeling become mandatory?

FDA has modified the date of applicability to require nutrition labeling on all non-exempt products labeled on or after May 8, 1994.  Products labeled prior to May 8, 1994 may continue to be shipped in interstate commerce.

How do I determine what values to declare on the nutrition label?

The nutrient values declared on the label are based on the nutrient profile of the product, as packaged, rounded as required by regulation.

In what order must vitamins and minerals be declared?

The Federal Register of January 6, 1993 erred in the order in which vitamins and minerals were listed.  A corrected list was published in the April 1, 1993 Federal Register which listed the order as follows: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper.

How should vitamins and minerals that are permitted to be listed voluntarily be listed?

If potassium is listed, it should be listed in bold type directly under sodium.   Voluntary vitamins and minerals (i.e., those other than vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron) should be declared horizontally or vertically following the required vitamins and minerals.

Can information about nutrients that do not have an RDI/DRV such as boron and omega-3 fatty acids be provided on the food label?

Yes, provided that the information is truthful and not misleading and is provided outside the nutrition label.  Such information is limited to statements of amount and may not characterize the level of the nutrient (e.g., can not state "High in Omega-3").

Will the values for the RDIs for adults and children over 4 years of age, which are the same as the U.S. RDAs established in 1973, be changed in the near future?

Under the provisions of the Dietary Supplement Act of 1992, FDA may not, until after November 8, 1993, propose regulations that require the use of new values for these RDIs, establish RDIs for new nutrients, and establish RDIs for other specific age/sex groups for which label reference values are not codified now.  FDA's activities and time tables for this potential revision will be determined, in part, by progress in the debate within the scientific community about whether and how the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) should be revised.