Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 at 7:00 am
Over the years, it has become more and more common for people to read the nutrition label before they purchase packaged food. There are a variety of reasons for doing so: checking the calorie count, finding out how much sugar is in the product, or scanning the list for allergens. In May of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration modernized the Nutrition Facts label that will be on packaged foods.
The purpose of the Nutrition Facts label is to help people make informed decisions about what they are eating and what is in the foods they are feeding to their families. The updated Nutrition Facts label is a modernized improvement of the version that was introduced over 20 years ago.
Key Updates Include:
* An update design to highlight “calories” and “servings”.
* Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat.
* Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars”. This is to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
* “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
* Packages that are between one and two servings (like a 20 ounce soda) will be required to list the calories and other nutrients as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
* Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D, consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
* Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount in addition to the %DM. The %DM for calcium and iron will continue to be required, along with the actual gram amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare.
* The phrase “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat”, “Saturated Fat”, and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.
* An abbreviated footnote to better explain the %DV.
Food manufacturers will be required to use the new Nutrition Facts label (as well as a new Supplement Facts label that will be used on dietary supplements) by July 26, 2018. Part of the reason for the changes is in response to new scientific information regarding nutrition. Some of that includes the links between diet and chronic diseases, obesity, and heart disease. The FDA is still in the process of determining what the word “natural” should mean when it appears on a food package.