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FDA provides guidance for new units of measurement

The units of measurement for folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E in the US need to be changed by 2021.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released step-by-step instructions on how to convert the previous units of measurement for folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E to the new units required on the updated Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels.

The guidance includes conversion factors to be used for each of these nutrients and sample calculations for converting new units of measurement.

For folate, the unit of measurement was changed from micrograms to micrograms dietary folate equivalents (mcg DFE).  For vitamins A and D, labels must declare units of measure using micrograms (mcg) rather than international units (IU).  The unit of measurement for niacin has changed from milligrams (mg) to milligrams Niacin Equivalents (mg NE) but will still be labeled as mg. For vitamin E the unit of measurement was changed from IUs to mg alpha (α) tocopherol but can be labeled as mg.

The new regulations include updated Daily Values for folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E.

The FDA amended the regulations for the nutrition labeling of conventional foods and dietary supplements to update the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels in 2016. The regulations include updated Daily Values for folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E, in addition to other nutrients, based on newer scientific evidence. In addition, units of measurement were updated to reflect those used in the National Academy of Medicine’s recently updated Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). 

The compliance date for these and other changes related to the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels is 1 January 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will receive an extra year to comply.

FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion to give manufacturers of single-ingredient sugars such as honey and maple syrup, and certain cranberry products, until 1 July 2021, to comply.

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