Friday March 19, 2021
One way to create healthier eating habits is to get to know the nutritional facts label on our foods. And doing so just got a little bit easier.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made mandatory changes to the Nutrition Facts Label on all packaged foods and drinks. This is the first major update to the label in over 20 years.
The updated label began appearing on foods last year as most manufacturers had until Jan 1, 2021 to comply with the new regulations. A select few manufactures have until July 2021 to comply.
The goal of the update is to help consumers make informed decisions about their food. The changes reflect the demand from consumers for food transparency and also updated scientific information surrounding dietary guidelines. The new label is more realistic to what people are eating today and also the link between diet and chronic diseases.
Get to know the new label
There are 6 key updates to the label.
1. Serving Size
Servings per container and serving size information now appear in larger, bolder font. Serving sizes for some foods have also been updated to better reflect what people are eating and drinking today.
Calories are now in significantly larger font and now bolded.
“Calories from Fat” has been removed because new research shows the type of fat consumed is more important than the amount.
4. Added Sugar
“Added Sugars” in grams and as a percent Daily Value (%DV) is now required on the label. Added sugars is any sugar added during the processing of foods and beverages, and includes sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.
New scientific dietary data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar.
The addition of “Added Sugars” reflects the current scientific knowledge about sugar and its relationship to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Did you know? There are currently 56 names for sugar. Many consumers may not be able to easily pinpoint all these names on an ingredients list so the new requirement of “Added Sugars” to be listed out separately from “Total Sugars” is most beneficial.
This new addition is the one we find most beneficial for helping us make healthier eating choices.
- Vitamin A and C are no longer required on the label. This is because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today. Manufacturers may include these nutrients on a voluntary basis.
- Vitamin D and potassium are now required to be listed on the label. These were added because current dietary data shows that many Americans do not always get the recommended amounts.
- Calcium and iron will continue to be listed on the label as many Americans do not always get the recommended amounts.
Also required is the actual amount in milligrams in addition to the %DV must be listed. The old label only required the percentage.
The footnote at the bottom of the label has been updated to better explain “percent daily value” or %DV. The %DV of an ingredient tells you how much an ingredient contributes to the total amount of that ingredient you need each day. The %DVs are still based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Want more details on the new label? Key changes chart here
Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you select foods and drinks to meet your personal nutrient and dietary needs. Use the new label to make better food choices to help you and your family have better lifelong health.