News about 2024 North American Food and Beverage Industry Regulations
North American food and beverage industry regulations continue to evolve to keep pace with technological advancements, changes in shopper behaviors and preferences, and emerging food safety risks. Staying compliant with and informed about regulations helps producers maintain trust in their brand and uphold commitments to supply safe, quality products.
Here are updates about new regulations or proposals in the U.S. and Canada that will affect food and beverage manufacturers in 2024.
Sugar Reduction Regulations
Concerns about the effect of sugar on health aren’t new, and recent international research reveals more than seven in ten people want to limit or avoid sugar intake. 2024 may become a landmark year for North American regulators and formulators as they strive to address the desire for sugar reduction in foods and beverages.
NOTEWORTHY NEWS ABOUT SUGAR REDUCTION
Several U.S. communities that instituted “sugar taxes” on beverages saw declining purchases, demonstrating regulations can change consumption patterns. An average price increase of $0.013 per ounce contributed to a 33% reduction in beverage volume purchased. The research, published in the Journal of American Medicine, acknowledges that people may travel to other locations to buy beverages. Findings suggest, however, that taxation could help people improve their health and mitigate the costs of heart-related diseases linked to high levels of sugar consumption.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to finalize a rule in 2024 limiting sugar intake by children attending school. The rule, requiring compliance by the Fall of 2025, outlines the following guidelines for school meals:
Grain-based desserts (bars, doughnuts, toaster pastries) will represent more than 2-ounce weekly equivalents.
Breakfast cereals must contain at most 6 grams of added sugar per ounce.
Yogurts can contain no more than 12 grams of added sugar per 6-ounce serving.
Flavored milk must have no more than 10 grams of added sugar per 6-ounce serving during breakfast or lunch. The allowable intake increases to 15 grams of added sugar per 12-ounce serving of flavored milk consumed outside meals.
Beginning in the Fall of 2027, the rule proposes limiting weekly added sugar intake to 10% or fewer calories per meal for breakfast and lunches in addition to the product-based guidelines.
During the spring of 2024, Canadians can comment on a regulatory proposal from Health Canada that would amend Food and Drug Regulations. The amendment wants to restrict advertising to children about specific foods with sodium, sugars, or saturated fats.
FORMULATING REDUCED SUGAR PRODUCTS
As demand for reduced sugar products increases, formulators can use natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit combined with soluble fibers to replicate the mouthfeel and viscosity of sugar. Flavors with modulating properties can optimize the taste experience of reduced, low, or no-sugar products.
Nutritional Labeling Regulations
North American food and beverage industry regulations encompass package labeling to help people make more informed decisions about nutrition. Over the next two years, several proposals and amended regulations will require changes to the nutritional details that brands disclose.
NOTEWORTHY NEWS ABOUT FOOD AND BEVERAGE LABELING
Foods and beverages sold in Canada with added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and caffeine must begin transitioning nutritional labeling to identify permitted supplemented ingredients. Supplemented foods include caffeinated energy drinks and protein bars, energy drinks with amino acids like taurine, or herbal ingredients like ginseng. Bottled waters or snack bars with added vitamins or minerals must also adhere to the new labeling requirements. Brands must comply with the new regulations by December 31, 2025. The policy change doesn’t affect fortified foods that add vitamins and minerals to replace nutrients lost during processing, such as adding B vitamins to ready-to-eat cereal. Fortification also ensures surrogate foods like non-dairy milk have similar nutrition to dairy milk.
Packaged foods with 15% or more of the daily value (DV) of saturated fat, sugar, or sodium, such as soups, frozen desserts, or puddings.
Prepackaged foods with a small reference amount (30g or ML or less) with 10% or more DV of the targeted ingredients, including cookies, breakfast cereals, or salad dressings.
Main dishes with a reference amount of 200g (or 170g for products targeting children) that have 30% or more DV of sugar, salt, or fat. Examples include meat pies, pizza, and frozen lasagna.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also exploring new front-of-pack labeling, testing several graphic options to evaluate communication effectiveness. The agency anticipates releasing guidance in June 2024.
FORMULATING WITH SUPPLEMENTED INGREDIENTS
Flavor plays a dual role in formulas with supplemented ingredients like vitamins or caffeine by adding taste while masking undesirable notes through flavors with modulating properties. Complimentary flavor profiles can also enhance the taste experience in foods or beverages with functional ingredients. Check with your flavor supplier to learn more about strategies for developing your functional food or drink.
Food and Beverage Standards of Identity
Food and beverage industry regulations also affect a product’s standard of identity. Standards of Identity (SOI) originated in 1939 to outline necessary and optional components in specific foods and preferred methods for production or formulation. While the system allows for flexibility, the fundamental goal is consistency and standardization across key food offerings. Several food and drink categories have new or adjusted standards of identities that could affect formulations, processes, or labeling for brands produced in North America.
DAIRY: YOGURT AND PLANT-BASED MILK
Yogurt brands must comply with the revised standard of identity (SOI) approved by the FDA in 2023. The agency revoked separate SOIs for low-fat and nonfat yogurt. The revision also modified several provisions about milkfat content, pH level, vitamin D fortification, and allowance of fat-containing flavors and safe and suitable sweeteners.
The debate about the SOI for plant-based milk will likely continue in 2024. Draft guidance from the FDA suggests that plant-based milk include a voluntary nutrient statement conveying how the product compares with dairy milk’s nutritional profile.
BEVERAGES: NO-ALC BEERS AND COCKTAILS
Although the TTB (the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) is the U.S. regulatory body for alcohol, the agency also oversees some no-alc beverages with dealcoholizing production methods. The FDA has jurisdiction over hard seltzers, kombucha tea, alcohol-infused foods, and low- and no-alcohol wine and spirits.
American producers can’t use the phrase “Alcohol-Free” if there is any alcoholic content at all in the product. If a beverage label says “0.0% alc by vol” anywhere, then “Alcohol-Free” must also show on the package. For drinks with an ABV of less than 0.5 percent, the phrase “Non-Alcoholic” is allowed, but the label must also state that the beverage “contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.”
In Canada, “low alcohol” or “contains less than % ABV” claims are acceptable for drinks with less than 1.1% alcohol by volume. “Non-alcoholic” or “Alcohol-Free” is permissible for products with alcohol levels reduced to less than 0.05%.
CBD AND THC-INFUSED GUMMIES
Within the U.S., 24 states and the District of Columbia enable cannabis use among adults. Some states have also legalized THC with variations like Delta-8 and Delta-9 under different statuses. THC is a controlled substance according to federal guidelines. If ten additional states pass legislation approving cannabis, Congress must hold an Article V convention for a constitutional amendment enabling federal legalization.
In the meantime, the U.S. FDA indicates an openness to “developing a new regulatory framework for cannabidiol (CBD)” but hasn’t moved beyond initial review.
The agency identified key risk management areas that may be part of the new regulations, including:
Clear labeling on products
Prevention of contaminants
CBD content limits
Measures to mitigate ingestion by children, such as minimum purchase age
Canada’s regulation of products containing cannabis is currently in development, with Health Canada reviewing feedback from stakeholders. The agency anticipates continuing to engage with stakeholders through 2024 before establishing regulatory guidelines.
Need Help with North American Food and Beverage Industry Regulations? FlavorSum Can Help
FlavorSum’s regulatory experts can help reduce the headaches associated with compliance in the food and beverage industry. From FIDS to support your alcoholic beverage innovation to counsel about appropriate labeling for flavor solutions, our team is here to help! When you partner with FlavorSum, you can easily download the technical and corporate documents you need to commercialize your product through our online portal, FlavorSum Access.
Lisa Jackson, Director of Marketing at FlavorSum, brings more than 30 years of market and consumer research experience to support innovation activities for food and beverage organizations.
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