Revised Nutrition Facts Label: The What, When and How

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Revised Nutrition Facts Label: The What, When and How

10, June 2016 3:53 PM


After a years-long process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released their planned changes to the Nutrition Facts labelthat black and white rectangle of nutrition information on the back or side of food packages. 

Last revamped over 20 years ago, this label revision is designed to align with current nutrition science, better reflect what Americans are actually eating and draw attention to calories and nutrients of public health concern. 

The new label should make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices and adopt healthy eating patterns, in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

FDA Explanation New Nutrition Facts Label

What's New on the Label?

From top to bottom, here are the big changes we can expect:

  • The “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container” will be larger font and more consistent with what people actually eat. For example, instead of a serving of ice cream being 1/2 cup, it will now be 2/3 cup; yogurt will be 6 ounces (oz.) instead of 8 oz. This will make it easier to determine how many calories are in commonly-consumed servings (instead of having to do the math).
  • The “Calories” row will be much larger and in bold font. With our nation’s burgeoning incidence of overweight across all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels, highlighting calories should help people assess and compare how many are in a serving of any particular food … and make appropriate decisions.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be eliminated, due to new research showing that type of fat is more important than total fat in one’s health. Grams of fat, saturated fat and trans fat will still be listed, as well as percent Daily Value (DV).
  • A row for “Added Sugars” will be added to differentiate between total and added sugars. Various public health groups recommend Americans decrease their intake of added sugars out of concern over obesity, tooth decay and displacement of healthier foods. It is hoped that this will help consumers identify foods that are significant sources of added sugars, as well as identify foods like milk and fruit that contain natural sugar, in order to make informed decisions.
  • All four of the nutrients deemed “under consumed” by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin D—now must be listed on the label. The current version only requires calcium and vitamin D. This will make it easier for consumers to identify sources of these nutrients and increase their intake if needed for healthy eating patterns. 
  • The section on nutrient DVs will be consistent with new nutrition research, and feature a footnote to better explain what they are.

What is the timeframe for the new label to be updated on food products?

  • Because it is a very laborious process to change packaged food labels, FDA is giving food manufacturers 2 years to implement these changes—so by July 26, 2018. For smaller companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales, they will have an additional year. Until then, we may start seeing some products with the new label rolled out—but likely on a product-by-product or brand basis.

How can health professionals help clients make the most of the revised labels?

  • Point out the specific aspects of the Nutrition Facts label that will help individual clients. If someone is watching their weight, the enlarged calories and more realistic serving sizes on packaged foods will aid them. If someone doesn’t consume many milk and dairy foods, they will want to ensure they are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. A frequent soda consumer may be surprised at their “Added sugars” intake, and be motivated to make appropriate modifications.
  • Educate them that “Added sugars” is a component of “Total sugars” and that many nutrient-dense foods have added or natural sugars. Fruit and milk, for example, contain natural sugars in the form of fructose and lactose. Many breakfast cereals and some yogurts have added sugars but are loaded with other nutrients. Consumers need to look at the whole nutrient package, not singular nutrients, in making food-choice decisions.
  • Counsel clients that healthy eating patterns can include favorite foods even if each individual food isn’t necessarily nutrient-rich.  Modifications can be made throughout the day—and even week—to eat a healthy diet overall without focusing on individual foods.
  • Remind clients that Daily Values (DVs) are best used to compare different products … for example, fiber in breakfast cereals. For certain nutrients—calcium, vitamin D, fiber and potassium—absolute amounts as well as DVs will be listed on labels.

How will you use the revised label, both in your personal life and with your clients? 

Log in to share your ideas in the comments below, or continue the conversation on Facebook

For more information on the upcoming changes to the Nutrition Facts label, read FDA’s news release.

Lori Hoolihan, Ph.D., R.D.N.

 

 




Tags: Healthy eating healthy eating patterns nutrition research recommendations

2 Comments


  • Marta 3 years 19 days ago
    I love the added sugar component! That will be a great help for me personally!

    Reply
  • David 3 years 114 days ago
    very good article... thanks for your information

    Reply

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