In May 2016, the FDA finalized new Nutritional Facts label designs that better reflect modern folks’ nutritional needs. While some manufacturers have already made the switch, larger companies have until January 2020 to have the new labels in place; smaller companies will have until 2021 to switch.
It’s about time! The original Nutritional Facts labels—more than 20 years old—have been tweaked to mirror current scientific research, links between diet and disease, the public’s input, and updated dietary recommendations. Here’s what you need to know about reading the new labels, and how they’ll ensure you’re feeding your family well and make it easier to assemble healthy recipes.
Portion Control Highlighted
The new food label formats emphasize important nutrition information, putting the emphasis on healthy choices and lifestyles. “Calories” and “Serving Size” appear in larger bold type. “Servings per Container” becomes more notable thanks again to larger type. And serving sizes have been changed to match amounts consumers actually eat. For example, ice cream servings that were previously marked as 1/2 cup have grown to 2/3 cup. Soda servings, with calories once denoting 8-ounce servings, have expanded to 12 ounces. If per-package servings fall between one and two (think a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, likely to be consumed by a single person in one sitting), the package will be labeled as one serving. Dual column labels may start popping up on products that offer more than one serving, but could be eaten or sipped by one person in a single sitting. Knowing the calories per serving of any food helps you plan delicious, diet-friendly meals, including low-calorie hearty breakfasts.
Sweet Lovers, Take Note
“Added” sugar grams now appear on new food labels beneath “Total Carbohydrates” and “Total Sugars.” This change is based on scientific data: When added sugars make up more than 10 percent of your daily recommended calories, you can’t meet your nutritional needs within the recommended calorie limits.
Fat Stats Switch
The number of calories from fat will not be noted on the new food label. Studies have shown that the type of fat matters more than the number of fat calories associated with a serving.
Other Updates Worth a Look-See
Manufacturers will no longer be required to note the daily values of vitamins A and C on the new food labels because these nutrients are no longer considered deficient in the American diet. But you will see daily vitamin D and potassium values. These nutrients, essential for bone health and lowered blood pressure, respectively, can be lacking in many people’s diets. Daily value amounts for sodium, fiber and vitamin D have been updated based on new research data.
Sure to be a very interesting (and quick!) read, the new food labels will help all of us make better-informed choices when selecting packaged foods and beverages. The information on these new labels—based on scientific evidence as well as how we Americans really eat—may set us all on a healthier eating path.