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New Nutrition Facts Labels: What's Coming, and What Could be Next

Gradual Changes on the Way

With the new FDA-mandated nutrition facts label on the way, it may seem too soon to project what will eventually replace the recently unveiled design. However, it's important to remember that there will likely be another style on the way in a few years, with yet another to follow. So when you work with a labeling partner to change your food products' backs and get in compliance with the latest FDA style, be sure to stay in touch with that company. You never know when another new design requirement may come down the pipeline.

Imagining Possible Next Steps

One hint that further evolution may be in store for the nutrition facts label is that the current round of changes isn't truly that drastic. Some industry watchers would doubtless like a more thorough revision. Law Street contributor Mary Kate Leahy recently explained that while the most recent round of changes does have the potential to positively affect decision-making about food purchases, consumers may benefit more from a graphically based "traffic light" system.

While some manufacturers would doubtless resist the traffic light labeling style due to the fact that foods without nutritional merit would be forced to say so in the form of red light graphics, there is precedent for its use. Leahy explained that the U.K. currently mandates this kind of packaging as a measure against consumer confusion. It may therefore be worth studying up on such a design, both in case the U.S. decides to follow in the U.K.'s footsteps and to see if an optional version of the traffic light graphic may prove helpful to customers.

Canada's Changes

After considering the potential merits of the U.K. model, it's time to see the approach Canada has taken to its own nutrition facts label. Whether for another point of comparison or because you're interested in selling your products across the border, this design is worth studying. The government's new plans for labeling include enforcement of consistent serving sizes and a font size increase for sodium. Furthermore, there is a new list of minerals and nutrients that labels should include, to reflect changing consumer priorities.

Clarity is clearly an objective for the Canadian model, as the new labels must include actual amounts of nutrients alongside percentage daily values. This could help shoppers make decisions without referring to other sources, which is a major step in the direction of simplification and clarity. The whole design will now be capped by an explanatory note pointing out that 5 percent or less of a recommenced daily value is "a little" and greater than 15 percent qualifies as "a lot."

Examining the FDA's Design

While it pays to look at other countries' designs and think of how U.S. labeling laws could change in the future, the fact is it's almost time to shift to a new set of labels here, making it most worthwhile to focus on those incoming changes. Whole Foods Magazine recently took such a look, explaining some of the most important elements you'll have to take into account as a manufacturer. For instance, the new list of minerals you must declare the presence and amount of consists of calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin D. Other declarations are optional.

The source also explained that, like in the Canadian model, there will be a footnote on American nutrition facts panels. Unlike Canada's distinction between "a little" and "a lot," this text will specify that the percentage daily values are taken from a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Today's labels have a similar message, but the revised version has been reworded for clarity.

A simple side-by-side comparison of new and old labels, provided by the FDA, shows that text formatting is one of the main elements that will change when the new design comes into effect. The number of calories is far larger than before, and the serving size has been bolded and enlarged. While the previous version of the nutrition facts label is largely a list of similar-sized items, the new one's hierarchy of importance is clearer.

A Loyal Labeling Partner

Getting ready to print new nutrition facts labels on your products is a great opportunity to redesign other elements. Whether that means adding additional health information or just adopting compelling new imagery, it's time to work with a competent labeling partner to ensure your project goes well and the revised designs roll out on schedule, potentially far in advance of the FDA's hard deadlines.

Lightning Labels can become your ally in this mission of modernization, using its state-of-the-art digital processes to turn your project around quickly and efficiently. Lightning Labels has a commitment to customer service that helps it strike up long-term relationships with clients. This will prove helpful when the next regulatory changes come down the pipeline and you have to change your designs again. As long as you have a great food label provider in your corner, you can take shifts in policy in stride and keep up.

Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.