There’s a Brand-New Nutrition Facts Label. Here’s What You Need to Know

The iconic "Nutrition Facts" label just got its first major makeover since the early '90s!

If you regularly check the Nutrition Facts label on the back of your food packages, you might notice it’s a bit different lately. In May 2016, the FDA finalized new Nutritional Facts label designs that better reflect today’s nutritional needs. By now, most larger food manufacturers have already made the switch; smaller companies have until 2021.

The original Nutritional Facts labels—now 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. It’s about time!

Here’s a closer look at changes on food labels.

Serving Sizes Are More Realistic

This is good news for anyone who has been shocked to see a serving size was 10 chips after devouring a whole bag of Lay’s. Now, serving sizes are displayed in a bolder, larger font and reflect how people really eat. For example, ice cream servings that were previously marked as 1/2 cup have grown to 2/3 cup. If per-package servings fall between one and two (like 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.

Added Sugars Are on the Label

“Added Sugars” 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% of your daily recommended calories, you can’t meet your nutritional needs within the recommended calorie limits.

What counts as an added sugar? This includes sweeteners like sugar, syrup and honey, as well as sugars from fruit or vegetable juices and additives like sucrose or dextrose.

The Labels Cut “Calories from Fat”

Remember when everyone was trying to eat low-fat? Who can forget the original SnackWell’s? Times have changed and the new Nutrition Facts reflect that.

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. This guide explains everything you need to know about good fat vs. bad fat.

Other Changes to Your Food Labels

Vitamin A and C have been removed from nutrition labels because deficiencies in those vitamins are rare now. 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.

The new food labels should 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.

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Krista Garcia
Writer, blogger, content creator. I specialize in food and travel, plus digital commerce and the retail industry. Based in Portland, Oregon after a very long time spent in NYC.