On May 20th 2016, the FDA released an updated design for the Nutrition Facts Label that must be present on all packaged food. Scientific understanding about nutrition and its link to diseases such as obesity and heart disease has advanced significantly in the 20 years since the original design was released; the redesigned label aims to reflect this new information.
What's changed on the Nutrition Facts Label?
- An updated design that highlights the most important areas of the Label, e.g. calories
- ‘Added sugars’ are now included on the Label, both as grams and Daily Value percentage
- The precise nutritional information that’s required has changed in some instances, for example ‘Calories from Fat’ is no longer a necessity but it can be included voluntarily
- Daily Values for nutrients have been updated to fit with today’s scientific understandings
- Serving sizes have been updated to reflect the increased portion sizes that consumers now expect, e.g. one serving of ice cream is now classed as 2/3 cup instead of ½ cup
- Packaging must now be taken into account when stating how many servings a product contains. Even if a product comes in two different sizes of packaging, if consumers are likely to eat/drink the larger product in one sitting, it must be classed as one serving.
- The required list of vitamins has been changed to reflect what nutritionists currently believe to be the more important for our overall health. Vitamins A and C will no longer the required, but Vitamin D and potassium will be. Calcium and iron must still be included.
What's does the new Nutrition Facts Label look like?
A sample label (made from a fictional product) can be seen below:
When will the new Nutrition Facts Label be released?
Manufacturers have until July 26th, 2018 to update their product Labels to the new design. Smaller companies with less than $10million in annual food sales have an additional year.
Foods imported to the United States will also need to feature the updated design.
Why has the Nutrition Facts Label been changed?
It is hoped that the updated design will help consumers to make better informed choices about their food and drink purchases and consumption.
Updating serving sizes to show the amount purchases are likely to consume, rather than the amount they ‘should’ consume gives people a more accurate understanding of the calories they are eating. With the previous label, serving sizes were often classed as less than what someone would normally eat. If the consumer didn’t realize this, they may have believed they were having the calories, fat, sugar, etc. stated on the label, when in fact they were eating much more.
As America’s obesity epidemic continues to grow, the FDA believes that adding more information to the Labels and highlighting the amount of calories in a larger font to make it obvious will encourage consumers to shop more healthily.
What do you think of the updated Nutrition Facts Label? Do you think it will change your shopping habits and encourage you to eat healthier? Let us know in the comments below.
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