You may have seen a new “Nutrition Facts” label on some of your favorite food products. Well, after 25 years, the panel is getting an update! Many businesses have already converted to the new label, which begs the question: what changes have been made and what do they mean to me?
Why is the label being updated?
Hard to believe it has been over two decades since the label was last updated — especially when you consider all the new research that has been published surrounding obesity and chronic illness in the United States and its correlation to an unhealthy diet. By January of 2020, food manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales will be required to comply with the new label.
The edits to the label are being enacted to better educate consumers on their dietary choices, and hopefully remedy the current consumer issue of label literacy. A study provided by Label Insight concluded that 67% of consumers find it difficult to determine if a product meets their nutritional needs, simply by looking at the label. Equally as shocking, almost half (48%) of consumers are left feeling uninformed about what they are consuming, even after reading a product label.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) directed the FDA to change the labeling so consumers can be smart about their diet. The FDA is in charge of these updates, and the motivations behind the changes are based on results from scientific studies, research in the public health sector as well as expert recommendations. These updates will provide the information you need to make better dietary decisions for yourself and your families.
“Our intent is to update our existing educational materials and create new educational opportunities to explain the overall role of using the label to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices, with an emphasis on each of the new changes of the label.” –FDA
How to best read the new label
Surveys conducted by both the International Food Information Council Foundation and the American Heart Association show that only 28% of consumers say that nutritional information is easy to find on current packaging. The D2D team wanted to create a helpful reference illustrating where to locate specific nutritional information on the label, and tips on how to apply this to your daily diet.
Details on the changes
Formatting updates. The FDA determined that several pieces of information on the label are of utmost importance for consumers to know, such as calories and serving size, thus you will see an increase in font size and boldness.
Serving Size changes. Since 1993, when our current nutrition label was created, the amount that people eat and drink has significantly changed. It is all too easy to eat an entire container not realizing that the nutritional facts are for more than one serving. Soda is a perfect example. The package size of a soda can has changed from 8 to 12 ounces, and we now see a 20-ounce size on the grocery store shelves. The new serving sizes will reflect more realistically what a person consumes in one sitting.
Daily Value updates. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that nutrients such as fiber, vitamin D, and sodium should all be looked at as a percentage of daily value (%DV), to better understand each nutrient within the context of your daily diet.
Definition and addition of “added sugars”. Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods “during processing or are packaged as such.” This is not to be confused with the sugars that are naturally occurring. A series of expert groups, including the American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization, have recommended decreasing the intake of added sugars to no more than 36 grams per day for men and 24 grams per day for women. You need to count added sugars as part of your total daily intake. For details on how your body digest sugar check out Sugar is Sugar is Sugar.
Addition of Vitamin D and Potassium. The CDC conducted a nationwide survey showing that the U.S. population is deficient in both vitamin D and potassium. Vitamin A and C will no longer be required on the label (but can voluntarily be included as companies see fit), as deficiencies in these two nutrients are rare.
Fats. The FDA will continue to require the Total fat, Saturated fat and Trans fat, while Calories from fat will no longer be a necessity. This is due to scientific conclusions that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat.
Footnote Change. The footnote will now read “*The % Daily Value tells 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”, to clarify what percent daily value means.
The Bottom Line
The new nutrition facts label provides easy-to-understand information to make the most accurate and informed dietary decisions for you and your family.