On May 20, 2016 the FDA announced some welcome changes to the Nutrition Facts labels on the foods we buy and eat. What are the changes and what do they look like?
Bold, larger font for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size.”
Required addition of actual amount and percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium.
A more clear explanation of what Daily Value means: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
MY FAVORITE: “Added Sugar” in grams and as percent Daily Value will be required on labels.
**4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar, so if you buy a product with 16 grams of added sugar you will know it contains 4 teaspoons of ADDED sugar per serving.
While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
Serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating.
For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup – and should probably be even bigger!
Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package” basis.
Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
Hopefully these changes will help all of us be better informed about the foods we buy and make better choices about the foods we eat.
Allegra Burton, MPH, RDN
Nutrition with Allegra
Chapel Hill, NC