FDA Food Label Changes

Why is the FDA making changes to the food nutrition label?

The nutrition label was first introduced and required beginning in 1990 and is ready for an update.  The FDA is making the changes to assist the American consumer in making healthier and more educated choices for themselves and their families.  The new label will include a more specific and accurate measure of what is included in the item.

What are the changes to expect?

  • A greater understanding of nutrition science
    • It will require companies to list the amount of added sugars, which are very common in processing and preserving.
    • The daily recommended intake will be updated for certain nutrients.
    • Potassium and Vitamin D amounts will now be required along with Iron and Calcium as “nutrients as public health significance”.  Vitamins A and C can be included on a voluntary basis.
    • Calories from Fat will be removed as it has been determined that the type of fat consumed, saturated, trans, or unsaturated, is more important than the overall amount.
  • An updated serving size and new labeling requirements depending on the package size.
    • Update the serving sizes to the amount people eat today.  By law, the serving sizes must be based on what people eat not what they should be eating; it is not a recommended serving size.
    • Items that are typically consumed in one sitting should be considered a single-serving and be labeled as such.  For example, a 20oz soda is labeled as more than one serving while the average American finishes the whole soda in one sitting.  This will also require the nutrition information on the package to reflect the total intake, not the recommended partial serving.
    • If an item could be consumed in either one or multiple sittings the manufacturer will not need to provide dual nutrition information.  One column for the serving size and one for the complete package.  For example, a 24oz soda or a pint of ice cream.  This will make it easier for people to understand how much they are taking in if they finish the whole package.
  • Updated Layout
    • The Calories and serving size will be significantly larger to assist in addressing current public health concerns such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
    •  Shift the percent daily value to the left, so it is the first thing read to help consumers understand how much of their daily allotment they are taking in instead of a measured amount.
    • Give a better explanation of the percent daily value in the footnote of the nutrition label.

When will these changes be applied to my foods?

The FDA is gathering public feedback and once the changes are voted into action the manufacturers then have 2 years to comply with the new changes.

Will these changes really make my grocery shopping easier?

Yes!  These changes will highlight the 2 most important pieces of information on the label: the Calories and Serving Size.  By utilizing that information, consumers will be able to make quick comparisons between multiple items.  Also, by focusing on the percent daily value of nutrients, instead of the amount, Americans will be able to at quick glance keep an eye on their which components they are receiving too much of and which they are not eating enough of.

Carleigh Williams
Health Educator

For more information visit: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm