Potential Nutrition Facts Panel Changes Both Good and Bad for Dairy

The Food and Drug Administration’s long-awaited proposal to revamp the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods, released last month, includes both pluses and minuses for dairy.

NMPF applauded the added label focus on two key nutrients in milk, potassium and vitamin D, saying they “will help consumers better understand the important role that dairy plays in a healthy diet.”

But NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern also said plans to list “added sugars” on the panel – based on recommendations that Americans reduce their intake of calories from added sugar – need clarification. “We look forward to working with the FDA to address this issue,” Mulhern said.

According to the FDA, the Nutrition Facts changes reflect new dietary recommendations, consensus reports and national survey data, including the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The FDA also considered comments from the public.

Other proposed changes would update serving-size requirements to better align with how much people really eat and present calorie and nutrition information for some products for the whole package, in addition to per serving. Serving sizes for ice cream will increase, but will decrease for yogurt. The new label also features a fresh design to highlight key nutritional concepts that are important in addressing public health problems like obesity and heart disease.

Mulhern said NMPF is open to improvements that will help consumers make informed choices. “We applaud highlighting potassium and vitamin D – two nutrients most Americans are not consuming enough of,” he said. Vitamin D is important in bone health and potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. The panel already highlights two other key dairy nutrients, calcium, and protein.

The changes would affect all packaged foods except meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.