In case you missed it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods on May 20th. The current nutrition label is more than 20 years old and the FDA felt the change was necessary so that consumers have the most accurate nutritional and serving information about the food they are eating. Food and beverage manufacturers have until July 26, 2018 to comply with these new changes and requirements.
The new label was created to reflect new scientific information, such as the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. The aim of the new label is to make it easier for consumers to make better, more informed food choices.
The major changes to the label include: modifying the list of required nutrients declared on the label, updated serving size requirements, and a new design.
The biggest change to the nutrition label is its appearance through a new design. The general look of the label is the same, but the changes that were made were so consumers could read certain components of the label easier and faster. The type size was increased for “Calories,” “servings per container” and the “serving size” declaration. The type was also bolded for the number of calories and “serving size.”
The label must now declare the actual amount and percent daily value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. Manufacturers have the option to declare the amount for other vitamins and minerals. At the bottom of the label, the footnote has been rewritten to better explain what percent Daily Value means. It will read “The % Daily Values tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet of 2,000 calories.” 2000 calories eaten in a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Here are some other updates to the label
- “Added sugars” in grams as a percent daily value will be included. It is hard to meet nutrition requirements if you eat more than 10% of your calories from added sugars.
- Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label, along with calcium and iron. Vitamins A and C are no longer required to be on the label.
- “Calories from Fat” is being removed from the label, because research has shown the type of fat is more important than the amount. Hence “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.
- Serving sizes must be based on amounts of food/drinks that people actually consume, not what “looks acceptable as determined by the manufacturer”. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat in a typical setting or serving.
- Package size affects what people eat. Serving sizes will be more realistic to reflect how much people typically eat at one time.
- For products that are more than a single serving, manufacturers will have to provide a “dual column” label to indicated the number of calories and amount of nutrients in both a serving and in the entire package.
Nutrition labels, on any food or drink, are just a guideline. The portion size you need as an individual varies based on a variety of factors (medical history, height, weight, gender, metabolism, diseases, disorders, etc.). If you need help with your diet or understanding how much you should be eating, it’s best to talk to a health professional, so you go about your diet in a safe manner. Contact Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness in Fort Myers for a nutrition consult. To book an appointment, call 239-362-3005, Ext. 200 or click here.