5 Things You Need to Know About the New Nutrition Facts Label
Last weekend, I appeared on the Good Day Philadelphia morning show on WTXF-TV (Fox 29). I was invited on to the show as the expert Dietitian/Nutritionist to provide insights around how the U.S Food and Drug Administration just finalized the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. Take a watch of this informative segment as I talk about some of the new elements of the new label. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCUJkSRMYo0
In my practice Wellness Nutrition Concepts label reading is one of the sessions I do with my clients where I sit with them and educate and explain what each section of the label means for their health and nutrition goals.
Here is what is going to change:
1.”Calories” and “servings” will be highlighted with bigger, bolder font. While it may making living in denial about how many calories are in that candy bar that much harder, magnifying this information is a key update when it comes to helping consumers make informed food choices.
2. Serving sizes will now reflect the amounts of food that people actually eat. How much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993; as a result, servings will now be required by law to be based on amounts of food that people are actually eating at one time, rather than what they should be eating. Because, really, what was the purpose of putting a serving size on a package that isn’t even close to what someone actually eats?
In addition, both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information will be required so people will understand how many calories they’re consuming if they eat or drink an entire multi-serving package (like a pint of ice cream) at one time. Again, no more living in denial! And, lastly, gone are the days of having to calculate how many calories/nutrients you’re actually getting from those deceptive products that contain between one and two servings, like a 20-ounce soda. Manufacturers are now required to label those items as one serving because people typically consume them in one sitting. Most people assume a package of something is the serving, or they can’t be bothered doing the math needed to figure out what is.
3.”Calories from Fat” will be removed. That’s because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required. I’m not sure anyone understood what calories from fat even meant to begin with. This change will reflect what we’ve learned from research about the importance of type of fat.
4. “Added Sugars” is now required. The number of grams and a percent daily value for “added sugars” will be added to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product and keep their total daily calories from added sugars in check. (Because, surprise, Americans get more calories from sugar than they should!) This is a very important change. Not all sugar is created equal, and hopefully this will help the consumer decipher between the two and know whether the sugar is naturally occurring and comes with a lot of nutritional benefits versus if it’s sugar simply added to a product for taste. For example, sugar in milk and 100 percent orange juice will not occur as added, but sugar from a candy bar or cookie will.
5. Vitamins and nutrients will be overhauled to reflect new science. Vitamin D and potassium will now be required on the label, since these are nutrients that some people aren’t getting enough of, which can put them at risk for chronic disease. Percent daily values and gram amounts of calcium and iron will also continue to be required, while Vitamins A and C will no longer be mandatory since deficiencies of these vitamins are rare. Additionally, daily values for nutrients like sodium and dietary fiber are being updated based on newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
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