The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking comment on proposed changes to the nutrition facts label found on most food packages in the United States. If adopted, the proposed changes would include information about added sugars, updated serving size requirements and new labeling requirements for certain package sizes.

According to the FDA website, many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugar because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing calorie intake. Also included will be updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D; and requiring manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label, because they are new “nutrients of public health significance.” It’s also being proposed that “Calories from Fat” be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.

The updated serving size requirements would require manufacturers to provide “dual column” labels to indicate both calories “per serving” and “per package” and nutrient information for certain packages that are larger and could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. A refreshed design would include making calories and serving sizes more prominent to emphasize parts of the label that are important in addressing current public health concerns such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What works best for dairy?

We asked experts in the labeling industry which label technology is best for dairy applications. Stacy Falconer, business development director for Dion Label Printing Inc., Westfield, Mass., said shrink sleeves are the best option for these reasons: They allow for 360 degrees of print real estate; they are waterproof and drip-proof; and they easily fit concave and unique shape bottles.

Don Earl, president of Overnight Labels, Deer Park, N.Y., agreed.

“We believe that shrink sleeves are the best option for all of these products for a number of reasons. The first being that shrink sleeves will conform to the unique shape of any package. So, whether it’s a yogurt container or a pint of ice cream, the shrink sleeve will be a perfect fit,” he said. “Another reason is the way shrink sleeves print. They are reverse-printed for scuff resistance. This helps your packaging look the best that it can, which leads into the third reason shrink sleeves are the best technology: 360 degree graphics area.”

He also said that shrink sleeves act as a tamper-evident seal on containers and perforations are available for easy removal. When removed, the remainder of the label remains on the container and not having to apply two separate label products can save time and money.

CEO Ron Giordano of H.S. Crocker Co., Huntley, Ill., weighed the options between shrink sleeves and printed cups.

“From an inventory standpoint the shrink sleeve is good as the cups are not printed. With the in-mold you are locked in and with pressure-sensitive the possibility of flagging or wicking in a refrigerated condition creates a problem as well as application equipment,” he said. “The only saving grace with a preprinted cup is you do not need extra equipment and no chance of shrink sleeve labels being mixed on the line.”

Sustainable solutions

A report from PMMI, the packaging associaiton, said manufacturers deal with sustainability issues by reducing label material waste and using sustainable materials.

Overnight Labels makes environmentally friendly stock options like Tree Free Stock and 100% compostable PLA Shrink Sleeves. It uses water-based inks on every job.

The PMMI report also said a key issue facing CPGs is their use of thinner label stock. EPI labelers, New Freedom, Pa., understands the ramifications this has on food manufacturers, because thinner label stock is subject to breakage, challenging labeling equipment.

Katie Williar, marketing coordinator for EPI, said “manufacturers want results,” which means a machine able to handle the thinner label stock, without compromising the product.

“How you handle the tension in the line is the answer. Every time there is a 90-degree turn you create or increase the tension in the line. We use a low-tension supply spool giving us the ability to decrease the tension,” she said. “We also have the ability to make adjustments to our machines, removing or changing the stress points on the liner to accommodate the various types of liners. When thinner label stock is being used it is generally best to have an application that has a consistent flow removing stress points.”