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Introducing the Updated Nutrition Facts Label!
You may have noticed a new look for the Nutrition Facts label on some packaged foods. Some manufacturers have already made the shift to the new labels, but you can expect all companies to be in compliance by January 2021. The label changes are meant to reflect the mounting scientific evidence linking diet to chronic disease and obesity. These changes should make it easier for consumers to make more informed food choices. For a side-by-side comparison of the original and the updated labels, click on the button below!
Here are some highlights of the changes:
You will notice increased type size for “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size” to better emphasize this information and make it easier to compare across similar products. This should be the first place to look when you read a label.
“Added sugars” (grams and percent Daily Value) are now included on the label. This change has been long-awaited and will likely be one of the most helpful additions to the new labels. Studies have shown that it is difficult to meet nutritional needs while staying within caloric guidelines if you consume over 10% of your calories from added sugar. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10% of daily caloric intake.
Actual amounts and Daily Values (DV) are now listed for vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. Other nutrient information can be listed at the discretion of the manufacturer. This change reflects current data showing many Americans are not consuming adequate amounts of these nutrients. The DV for nutrients like vitamin D, sodium, and dietary fiber have been updated based on emerging evidence which was used to develop the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.
The “calories from fat” has been removed from the new labels because research has shown that the type of fat consumed is a more important factor to consider for health than the amount of fat consumed. The Traditional Mediterranean diet is an excellent example of perhaps the healthiest way to eat and percentage of calories from fat can be 35-40%, which is higher than the previous Dietary Guidelines, which was set at no more than 30% of calories from fat.
The footnote at the bottom of the label is changed to explain the meaning of Daily Value: “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.” This is included to help consumers understand the nutrition information on a label in the context of the total daily diet. In the case of nutrient labels, they use 2,000 calories/day as a reference amount consumed and base the % DV on 2,000 calories.
Serving sizes of some foods will be greater than on previous labels. This is because serving size on labels must reflect the amounts people are actually eating, not how much they should eat. The amount people eat and drink has increased from 1993, when the previous serving size requirements were published. Examples are ice cream (serving size was ½ cup and now is 2/3 cup) and soda (serving size was 8 oz. and now is 12 oz.)
Since package size influences how much people eat, packages that contain between one and two servings, such as a 20 oz. soda or a 15 oz. can of soup, will now be required to list the calories and nutrients as one serving. This reflects the fact that most people will consume the entire food at one time.
For products that are larger than a single serving but could be consumed at one time or multiple times, manufacturers are required to have a “dual column” on their labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients in one serving as well as in the entire package. Examples are a 24 oz. bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream.