Did you know that there have been no significant changes to the nutrition facts label since its creation in 1993? The wait is over folks! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized the new Nutrition Facts Label that will be required on all products by January 2020. Some companies have begun to change over to the look, so it’s time to take a closer look at what the new label means for us.
More Nutrition Transparency
Reading a nutrition label can be confusing. The new nutrition facts label will make it easier for the public to make informed decisions about the food they eat. It reflects the latest nutrition news, dietary recommendations, and public health research regarding the links between the food we consume and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. See the diagram below for a side-by-side comparison of the old and new labels.
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label
Some of the new and exciting features on this version of the nutrition label include:
- The classic look remains; however, updates have been made to highlight information deemed important to make informed decisions about the foods we eat.
- Changes include enlarging the text size for “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.” The number of calories and the “serving size” have also been bolded.
Updated information about nutrition science
- A new line called “added sugars” has been added to the label in grams and as a percent Daily Value. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020 state that “it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10% of your total calories from added sugar.” Including added sugar on a separate line will help people understand the difference between naturally occurring sugars and sugars added to a food product.
- There are also changes to the required vitamins and minerals listed. Calcium and iron will still be required, along with Vitamin D and potassium. Vitamin D and potassium are important for bone and heart health, respectively, and most Americans do not regularly consume sufficient amounts. Vitamins A and C are no longer required since most Americans regularly consume sufficient amounts of these vitamins.
- “Calories from Fat” is no longer a required listing. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required, however.
- Daily values for certain nutrients have been updated in accordance to new scientific research and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020. The percent Daily Value helps the public understand how the nutrition information fits into the context of the day. These nutrients include sodium, dietary fiber, and Vitamin D.
Updated serving sizes and labeling requirements for certain package sizes
- According to law, the serving size must be listed for what people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. Unfortunately, how much people are eating and drinking has changed greatly since the original labels were created in 1993. For example, a serving size of ice cream has increased from ½ cup to 2/3 cup and a serving size of soda has increased from 8 oz. to 12 oz.
- A new requirement has been set for packages containing between one and two servings, such as a 20 oz. can of soda. Companies must now label the nutrients as one serving since most people will consume it in one sitting.
- Similarly, on packages that contain more than one serving but can be consumed in one or multiple sittings, such as a pint of ice cream, companies must include “dual column” labels. This means that labels must be given for “per serving” and “per package/unit.” The dual column label will make it easier to understand the calories and nutrients obtained from one serving versus the entire package.
Next time you’re grocery shopping, check some of the packaging for the new nutrition label. Make a comparison for yourself to see the differences! Is it easier to read, more user-friendly, and helpful?
If you’d like to discuss the changes being made to the nutrition facts label or would like a dietary plan to control your own serving sizes, sit down with me for a fitness consultation!
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.