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  1. Food Labeling & Nutrition

FDA’s Nutrition Initiatives

The FDA is prioritizing its nutrition initiatives to ensure people in the United States have greater access to healthier foods and nutrition information we can all use to identify healthier choices more easily. Increasing the availability of healthier foods could improve eating patterns and, as a result, improve everyone’s health and wellness.

At its Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on September 28, 2022, the White House released a National Strategy to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, so that fewer consumers experience diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity and hypertension. The strategy includes several FDA initiatives to help accelerate efforts to empower consumers with information and create a healthier food supply, such as: developing an updated definition and a voluntary symbol for the “healthy” nutrient content claim, front-of-package labeling, and Dietary Guidance Statements on food labels, as well as gathering input for nutrition labeling for groceries sold online. The strategy also reflects the need to encourage the production of healthier foods by including targets to reduce sodium in foods and providing greater flexibility to industry around the use of salt in standardized foods. The FDA also will explore additional ways to reduce added sugars in foods to complement its requirement that added sugars be included on the Nutrition Facts label. On November 6-8, 2023, the FDA will hold a virtual meeting and listening sessions on strategies to reduce added sugar consumption in the United States.

Nutrition Initiatives

Eating patterns in the U.S. do not align with federal dietary recommendations. Most people in the U.S. do not eat enough fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains and healthy oils, and consume too much saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Healthy eating is influenced by a variety of factors including access to healthy, safe, and affordable foods as well as consumers’ knowledge, preferences, and culture. At the FDA, we want to have an impact on eating patterns by encouraging industry to make healthier foods and by providing information so that consumers can make healthier choices.

The U.S. faces an ever-growing epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Poor nutrition plays a key role in chronic but preventable diseases, which are leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. Racial and ethnic minority groups, those with lower socioeconomic status and those living in rural areas disproportionately experience these diet-related chronic diseases. Additionally, the pandemic made it very clear that we need to improve nutrition, given that people with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases have an increased risk of severe symptoms and death from COVID-19. In 2021, CDC issued a report indicating that sharp increases in Body Mass Index rates occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic; those with overweight or obesity and younger school-aged children experienced the largest increases.

FDA’s Role

The FDA plays a key role within a broader, whole-of-government approach to help reduce the burden of chronic diseases and advance health equity by helping to improve dietary patterns in the U.S.

For example, food labeling can be a powerful tool for change. It empowers consumers with information they can use to identify healthier foods. In addition to helping consumers with their food choices, food labeling may help foster a healthier food supply if some manufacturers reformulate to create healthier products.

The FDA has taken some significant steps to support consumers in making healthier choices. For example, the FDA updated the Nutrition Facts label with a refreshed design and updated information, including the declaration of added sugars (consuming too much added sugars can make it difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits). Calories are also now required to be declared on certain menus and menu boards to better equip consumers with nutrition information when they eat away from home. Most recently, the FDA issued voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry in a wide variety of processed, packaged and prepared foods as part of an ongoing effort to reduce sodium in the food supply.

The FDA knows more needs to be done. We will continue to focus on creating a healthier food supply, empowering consumers and helping establish healthy starts for our youngest populations. Working with our federal partners in a whole-of-government approach, we can dramatically reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases, advance health equity, and improve the health of future generations.

Key Elements


Initiative Progress
Sodium Reduction
  • Issued final guidance on voluntary, short-term targets for sodium (October 2021)
  • Published guidance to provide enforcement discretion for the use of “potassium salt” on product ingredient lists (December 2020)
Maternal and Infant Health and Nutrition
  • Published updated fish advice for those who might become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children, in partnership with EPA (October 2021)
  • Co-hosted Bioactive Ingredients in Infant Formula Workshop with the National Institutes of Health (September 2021)
  • Issued draft guidance for industry on protein efficiency ratio studies and infant formula submissions
Labeling and Claims
  • On November 16, 2023, the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA will host a public meeting on front-of-package labeling.
  • Issued two procedural notices in January 2023 and June 2023 on consumer research plans to explore the development of a FOP nutrition labeling scheme.
  • Issued draft guidance about dietary guidance statements in food labeling (March 2023)
  • Issued a proposed rule to update the “healthy” claim (September 2022)
  • Issued two procedural notices on the preliminary quantitative consumer research on the healthy symbol; the first notice was issued in May 2021 and the second notice in March 2022
  • Discussed labeling for online grocery shopping settings at the FDA’s New Era E-Commerce Summit (October 2021) and issued an RFI for online grocery shopping (April 2023).
Consumer Education

Support Innovation
(Standards of Identity and Plant-based Labeling)

  • Issued proposed rule to permit the use of salt substitutes in foods with standards of identity for which salt is a required or optional ingredient (April 2023)
  • Issued draft guidance on the labeling of plant-based milk alternatives (February 2023)
  • A joint FDA and USDA effort to publish a new proposed rule on principles for food standards modernization was included in the most recent Unified Agenda
  • Discussed horizontal approaches to SOIs with stakeholders at a public meeting (September 2019) and reviewed comments submitted to docket
  • Issued request for information to solicit feedback on the labeling of plant-based products using dairy terms in labeling (September 2018)
  • Amended SOI for yogurt (June 2021)
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