Written by Patricia Pauyo | Reviewed by Melissa Sirolli RD, CDN, CNSC, CLT
After an eight-year hiatus, the United States nutrition facts label is receiving a makeover! The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a set of new requirements for food manufacturers. The goal is to make it easier for customers to know what exactly is in their foods and to assist these customers in making healthier choices.
Knowing how to read and understand the nutrition information on food packaging will help consumers make better decisions when choosing products.
Here are some of the changes you can expect to see on the new nutrition facts label, by July 26, 2018:
Serving Size: More Realistic!
The new label will provide serving sizes that are more realistic and reflect the amount of food that people actually eat and drink today. These new amounts are based on the amount of food that is customarily eaten at one time, instead of the usual one serving of food. Serving sizes will also be written in bold and larger type to make it easier to read. It’s important to refer to the serving size of a food to determine the amount of nutrients you will be consuming.
Calorie: Larger and Bolder
Looking at calories on the food label is important to achieve and/or maintain healthy weight. On the new label, the calorie count will appear larger and bolder. Certain packages will display the amount of calories and nutrients in one serving as well as the entire package. Calories from fat will no longer be shown because research indicates that the type of fat consumed is more important than the amount.
Percent Daily Values (%DV): Science Based Updates
%DV are listed to provide information about the amount of nutrients one serving of food contributes to one’s total daily diet. These values have been updated based on new scientific evidence and are now more accurate. This will help consumers avoid under and over consumption of certain nutrients. As a general rule, 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is low and 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is high.
Nutrients: Added Sugar, Vitamin D and Potassium
The new label is now required to show how much added sugar, vitamin D and potassium is in a food product. This is a result of Americans not always consuming the recommended amounts. When choosing a food with added sugar, one should aim for less than 10% of their daily calories from sugar.
Ingredient list: Usual Name
Each ingredient in a food will be listed by its common or usual name in descending order by weight. Therefore, the ingredient with the greatest contribution to the product weight is listed first, and the ingredient contributing the least by weight is listed last.