The Nutrition Facts label has been a go-to-guide for consumers for several decades, providing the information necessary to make conscious health decisions and support healthful dietary choices. The label is in the midst of a much needed makeover. The FDA has approved this updated label design as a way to better inform consumers of what is really in their food. While the new label isn’t expected to be fully enforced until 2018, it is definitely a giant leap in the right direction towards improving nutrition awareness. See the major changes set to take place below.
Redesigned and Enlarged Text
When you read a label, what facts are you looking for? Are you looking for the fat content? Or, perhaps sodium amounts? Are you looking for the number of calories? No matter what you are referring to on the label, the updated label promises to make it easy to see exactly how many calories and serving sizes are in a food package by using bold and enlarged text. This will make it easier to consciously control portion sizes while eating or drinking.
A Reality Check for Serving Sizes
Ever wonder where they came up with certain serving sizes on the labels? The current label provides a serving size which is based off of recommended portions, while the updated label will align with what people are actually eating. An example of this is where the current serving size for ice cream shows as ½ cup, yet in a realistic sense, most people will eat a 2/3 cup serving. With this change, we recommend being mindful of portion control and to avoid overeating to manage your weight and overall health.
Dual Column Labeling
This update will be required for some packages where the food or beverage can be consumed in either one sitting or multiple settings. For example, a bag of chips can be quite deceiving, especially where packaging is concerned. It may look as though a small bag is equal to one serving, while in fact, there are two total servings. Having the dual labels will show information per serving, along with per container to better inform individuals of what is really inside. In this example, eating only a portion of the bag will have far less calories, sugar, fat and sodium compared to eating the entire bag.
Total and Added Sugars
Where we are accustomed to seeing the amount of sugar in a particular food or beverage, you’ll soon be able to see exactly how many of those sugars are naturally occurring and how many are added. This will allow us to make more conscious decisions based on our health needs, particularly where focusing on unprocessed and whole foods for optimal nutrition is concerned. An example of how this will be useful is in comparing soda and 100% apple juice. This label will show a more informative breakdown of the soda with 41g of sugar, where 41g are added sugar; where in the 100% apple juice, there is the same amount of total sugar (41g), but zero added sugars. This will support the recommendation for selecting less sugar-sweetened foods and beverages that are commonly associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. The overarching goal for those wanting to minimize excess calories and unnecessary refined sugars is to aim for a product that has minimal or zero added sugars.
-Following the updated 2015-2020 Guidelines, the Daily Values for sodium, fiber, and vitamin D will show a more current amount based on actual need.
–Fats: the FDA recognizes that the type of fat in a food is more important than the amount, so “Calories from Fat” will be removed. Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and Trans Fat will remain on the label.
–Dietary Fibers: this amount will only measure naturally occurring and added fibers that are shown to provide a recognizable health benefit.
–Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins A & C will be removed and Vitamin D will be added to the label. The need for Vitamin D to support optimal health will now be more highly regarded. Potassium will be added to the new label.
–Daily Value: The Daily Value will be updated to read: “*The % Daily Value tell you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016) Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. Accessed May 20, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm