“You will no longer need a microscope, a calculator, or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you are buying is actually good for our kids.”
-Michelle Obama, First Lady
Recently, the FDA approved a makeover for the Nutrition Label. The label was originally mandated under the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act signed by President George H.W. Bush and required most food products to have labels by May 1994. Since then, the nutrition label has been the go to reference for calories, macro nutrient breakdowns, and amount of vitamins and minerals.
This change has been long overdue, Take a look at the new Nutrition Label:
The best change (and most confusing) is the inclusion of added sugars. Indented below ‘Total Carbohydrates’ will now be ‘Total Sugars’ (previously ‘Sugars’) and indented below that will be ‘Added Sugar.’ Previously, only naturally sugars (like those from fruit) were displayed on labels. That gave an inaccurate amount of how much sugar was in the product. Added sugar represents the amount of sugar added during processing. This change came about based off the recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), which showed that added average added sugar consumption exceeds the recommended 10% of total calories.
Note: Total Sugars includes Sugars and Added Sugars, so there is no need to add them up. To determine the amount of natural sugar, subtract ‘Added Sugar’ from ‘Total Sugar.’ In the sample label above:
12g Total Sugar – 10g Added Sugar = 2g Natural Sugar (Not Displayed)
Calories in Larger Bold Type
Calories per serving is now hard to miss. While knowing how many calories are in a serving is important, do not neglect knowing where the source of those calories come from, which is much more important.
Servings will also be in bold, and stand out to the consumer. They will also be updated to reflect current eating sizes. Previous serving sizes have not been updated since 1993, and now will reflect current trends of larger portions.
Per Package Nutrition Information
Certain products will have a Dual Column Nutrition Label that will show information for the entire package. This will be added to foods such as a pint of ice cream or bag of chips, which can be consumed in one sitting.
Calories from Fat
This section has been taken out. The recent DGAs show the importance of healthy fat in the diet and having its total calories displayed does not help determine the source of the fat in foods. Like calories, it is the type that matters more than the total. The labels for ‘Total Fat,’ ‘Saturated Fat,’ and ‘Trans Fat’ will remain.
Information for vitamins and minerals will be updated as per the 2015-2020 DGAs. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required since deficiencies are uncommon and instead be replaced with Vitamin D and Potassium, which will now include the gram amount and the percentage Daily Value.
A new footnote will be placed at the bottom explaining Daily Values.
Food manufacturers have until July 2018 to update their label information.