In efforts for America to battle chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease, food manufacturers will be publishing changes to their nutrition labels in order to give people access to more informed food choices. The FDA considered key information from citizen petitions, survey data, and consumer studies when preparing to alter the nutrition label. As a result, all food manufacturing companies will be required to have their products reflect changes by January 2021, though some have already begun making changes.
The first noticeable change at the top of the label is the increased font size to highlight the “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.” You’ll notice the “calories from fat” value has been removed as consumers are no longer considering the calories from fat, but more closely considering their type of fat, with healthier preference being the mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Also, daily values for sodium, dietary fiber, and Vitamin D have changed as they are more accurately defined with the latest scientific evidence from the institute of medicine. Daily values are percentages based on a 2000 calorie diet that help consumers understand the information in context of total daily diet; this is explained in the footnote of the new label. In the future, the actual amount and the percent daily value of vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium will be included on the label. The requirement of Vitamin D and Potassium have been added as Americans do not typically get enough of these nutrients. Vitamin A & C will no longer be required but are welcome to be voluntarily included. Additionally, “added sugars” in grams and percent daily value will be conspicuously placed under the existing “sugar” content. This has been included because according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for American’s, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within the calorie limits if consuming more that 10 percent of total calories from added sugar. Further, not only has the font size increase on the serving size, but also some actual serving sizes have as well. Actual portion sizes that people consume have changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. Regulation now indicates a serving size based more closely to what people are really eating. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously 1/2 cup but is changing to 2/3 cup. Additionally, a dual column feature will be present when the food item is commonly consumed in one sitting, such as a pint of ice cream. The dual-column will indicate nutrients and calories based on servings size as well as the whole package. This will help consumers gain perspective on the total content should they choose not to share.
No matter which version of the food label you encounter on your food product, rest assured you are getting quality scientifically-based information for making informed choices on the foods you eat. Whether you haven’t used a food label in the past or if you currently do, it is encouraged that you take note of the changes as the new label functions to better assist Americans with making mindful food selections.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.