It is so important to read labels on food products. That is where we get our information about the number of servings in a product, total calories per serving, grams of sugar per serving and the amount of micronutrients in an item.
Recently the FDA made changes to the Nutrition Label found on processed foods to ensure important information regarding calories, serving sizes, added sugars, and micronutrients are consistent with the current needs of the American diet.
The text displaying “calories” is now larger, bolder, and more prominent on the label in hopes of encouraging smarter food choices. Multi-serving food products will now include both a “per serving” and a “per package” calorie count so individuals can more easily assess their intake.
The “serving size” text has also been enlarged and now more closely matches the size of servings typically consumed. Items that are between one and two servings and that are typically consumed in one sitting, such as a 20-ounce bottle of soda, are now labeled as just one serving.
An additional category of “Added Sugars” helps differentiate the sugars added during processing from those that occur naturally in the food. This new section also comes with the percent daily value (%DV) for the added sugar to help individuals regulate the amount of added sugar they consume in relation to their daily calorie goal.
The micronutrients displayed at the bottom of the label have been modified to include vitamin D and potassium in both %DV and grams. A focus on these vitamins stems from research that shows vitamin D and potassium are the most common nutrient deficiencies in the American diet that lead to chronic diseases. Vitamin A and C are now only voluntarily included because deficiencies in these vitamins are uncommon.
The goal of these changes, as explained by the White House, is that we will “no longer need a microscope, a calculator, or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids.”
While it’s still best to eat a diet consisting of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, every little step that can be taken to educate others on the food they are putting into their body is a victory in my books.
Here is the Old Label (on left) vs. New Label (on right)
These and other minor changes will come into effect by July 26, 2018. See the full modifications and accompanying explanations made by the FDA on the Nutrition Label.