nutriton facts

6 Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label You Need to Know

If you haven’t heard by now, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring food companies to update their nutrition labels for packaged foods by January 1, 2020 (or 2021 for smaller companies). Nutrition fact labels can be found on all foods sold in stores, excluding fresh produce and meat. They contain lots of useful information that can contribute to healthy eating habits when utilized correctly. Some companies have already adopted the new label, so here are some of the changes you’ll start to see:

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1. Serving Size

Serving sizes will be found at the top of the nutrition label in a larger, bolder type. Companies will also be required to update how much is in a serving, in order to be more realistic with what most people are actually consuming.

For example, a serving of ice cream used to be considered 1/2 cup, but since most people eat more, it will now be updated to 2/3 cup.

Pre-packaged foods are also changing to reflect that most people will consume an entire package, even if only half should be consumed at a time. Therefore, many prepackaged drinks and snacks will jump from two servings to one serving.

The use of dual column labels will also be implemented in some products to show both amounts per serving AND per entire package/unit.

2. Calories

Calories will also be shown in a larger, bolder type in order to be easier to find. The amount of calories an individual needs per day varies from person to person, but the nutrition facts label uses a 2000 calorie diet for the basis of their guidelines.

3. Fats

The new label will continue to depict total, saturated, and trans fat, but calories from fat will be removed. This is because science has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount, or calories, of fat in a food or drink.

4. Updated Daily Values

Percent daily values (%DV) are used to show the different amounts of nutrients a person should consume in a day, so they are useful for understanding the information in the context of a total, daily diet. With new research, %DV amounts for certain nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin are being updated. This gives people a more accurate description.

5. Added Sugars

Added sugars are one of the biggest changes coming to the new nutrition facts label and will be used to show the amount of sugar that is added to a food during processing and packaging.

Added sugars include sugar itself, sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from juices that are not 100% juice.

Many expert groups, such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization suggest that almost everyone would benefit from reducing the amount of added sugars consumed.

The more added sugars a person consumes in a day, the less room left for dietary fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals.

6. Different micronutrients

The new label will continue to show %DV for iron and calcium, and it is replacing vitamins A and C with vitamin D and potassium. American diets in the early ’90s typically lacked A and C, which is why they appear on the old label.

However, deficiencies are now rare in the general population, so the FDA now wants to turn its focus to vitamin D and potassium, where enough is still not being consumed.

Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health and potassium can help lower blood pressure. Another change to micronutrients is that the new label will also include actual amounts and %DV, while old labels only showed the percentage.

You can find more information on the new nutrition fact labeling here.