The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they are FINALLY FINALLY proposing some changes to nutrition labels! If they are approved (and I hope they are) the new labels will put a bigger emphasis on total calories, added sugars and some specific nutrients (such as Vitamin D and potassium).
They are also proposing changes to serving size requirements. Bout time! They are hoping to more accurately reflect what people actually eat/drink instead of the laughable (just ask Brian Regan – check out the video below, hilarious) suggested portion sizes currently on many food labels. Who buys a 20 ounce soda and only drinks 8 ounces of it? The new rules would require that entire soda to be one serving size, making it easier to determine total calories.
This is a much needed update. Since the FDA began requiring food labels more than 20 years ago, they have yet to be updated!
So what are the changes?
1. Remove the “calories from fat” line to change the focus to total calories.
Why? Because the type of fat you’re eating matters more than the calories from fat so the breakdown of total fat vs. saturated and trans fat will still be listed on the label.
2. List the amount of added sugar in a product.
Why? Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar (from fruits and dairy) and what has been added by the manufacturer.
3. Update the daily values for certain nutrients: Sodium, Dietary fiber and Vitamin D.
Why? In recent years as more nutrition discoveries have been made the recommended intake for many nutrients has changed. For example…the daily limit for sodium was 2,400 milligrams. If the new rules take effect, the daily value will be 2,300 milligrams.
4. Companies would be required to state the amount of Vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron.
Why? Research shows Americans tend not to consume enough Vitamin D for good bone health. And potassium is essential in keeping your blood pressure in check.
5. Change serving sizes to make them more realistic of what people actually eat per “serving”.
Why? Most of the required serving sizes will be going up; no one eats just half a cup of ice cream! Right?? Some others, like yogurt, will be going down. This will help people comprehend how many calories they’re actually eating, especially if they plan to eat all the food in a package
6. Include a daily value of 25 grams for added sugars.
Why? To make it more obvious to consumers how much sugar they are actually getting. I think this is especially important in sweetened beverages (like soda). For example the Nutrition Facts label for a 16.9-ounce bottle of soda would indicate that its 58 grams of added sugars represents 230% of the DV (daily value)!
The FDA has opened a 90-day comment period allowing experts and members of the public to provide input on the proposed rules (so feel free to share your thoughts if you feel so inclined!). The FDA will then issue a final rule, hopefully this year and manufacturers will then have two years to implement the changes.
As someone who spends a good majority of their life talking to people about food and spends a lot of time teaching people how to properly read (or decode) labels I think these changes will be enormously helpful. I hope this goes through and we get these changes started ASAP.
Just to give you an idea of what the new labels will look like, here’s a comparison…
Current Label New Label