By Zak Romanoff
zak@omnifs.com

The food industry is the target of multiple pieces of legislation aimed at bringing reform and a sense of transparency to consumers. There are several laws slated to go into effect in the near future that all food companies/retailers should be aware of.

1. Food companies will be required to label food that contains genetically modified organisms/ingredients (compliance date TBD)

2. The FDA has revised the traditional Nutrition Facts label that all retail products will be required to convert to by July 26, 2018.  Washington Post

3. And coming May 5, 2017…. mandatory calorie labeling on menus and menu boards at restaurants and supermarkets next to the name or price of the item.

Most prepared foods sold for ‘on the go’ consumption such as made to order sandwiches, take out food, and salad bar items in grocery stores are included under the new legislation.

 

After originally being scheduled to go into effect December 1, 2016- the law was delayed as industry insiders asked the FDA for more time to comply. Expect supermarkets to request each of their suppliers to provide them with full ingredient and nutritional information that will be shared with customers.

Some of the more detailed info requested may include:
– Serving size in grams
– Calories from saturated fat
– Trans fat grams
– Cholesterol milligrams
– Sodium milligrams
– Sugar grams
– And many others…
Failure to comply with these measures could result in products no longer being carried by certain retailers.

 

Expect to see these two statements communicated on supermarket menu boards:
        1. The average recommended calorie intake is 2,000 calories per day
        2. Detailed nutritional information about each menu item is available on demand
Menu labeling applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations.  This is intended to protect ‘mom and pop’ owners. Approximately 300,000 food establishments including supermarkets will be affected by the law.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

 

Takeaways:

Expect the demand for transparency in the food industry to continue.  There will likely be additional laws enacted in the coming years on top of the 3 mentioned in this post. We are living in the digital information age, where “Big Data” is going to become more available and consumers will continue to expect transparency.

Nutrition based app’s like
– My Macros+ Diet
– MyPlate Calorie Tracker
– CalorieCounter & Diet Tracker by MyFitness Pal
help people track and save their daily intake of calories by individual food item and serving size. People that participate in growing Cross-Fit gyms and people who exercise individually are using these apps to help them track their gains.
Check out this blog by the Shredded Salesman to get an idea of what degree of detail is used in nutrition analysis…

Have you ever talked ‘macros’ when discussing your diet???  Do you know anybody that wears a ‘fitbit’ around their wrist to count the amount of calories they burn in a day?

 

If people count the number of calories they burn in a day, expect them to want to know precisely how many calories they take in.  For me it isn’t a priority enough to enter the details of every meal I eat onto such a tracker, but for millions of people it is. Under Armour has joined forces with MyFitnessPal to create the largest digital health and fitness community with 120 million members…I expect the process of counting calories will become easier in the future. The food companies that find a way to capitalize on this next wave of opportunity will win big…

 

Link to press release:
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm423952.htm

More good info here:
http://healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief_pdfs/healthpolicybrief_140.pdf

 

FDA Labeling