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Give Me Something I Can Count On!

I know it’s long overdue, but the Doc had to follow the instructions of her own Doc!  But now, let’s look at the improvements to our new label (new label on the right).  The current Nutrition Facts label is more than 20 years old, and to make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, updates and changes have been made to the Nutrition Facts label. The changes are based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.

The major changes include modifying the list of required nutrients that must be declared on the label, updating serving size requirements, and providing a refreshed design. The new Nutrition Facts label should make it easier for consumers to make more informed decisions about the food they eat, and hopefully, to make even healthier food choices.

You will still recognize the label, but some improvements to the format have been made to provide significant public health information. Those changes include:

  • Highlighting “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration by increasing the type size and placing the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration in bold type.
  • Requiring manufacturers to declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value, of the mandatory vitamins and minerals.
  • Adding “Includes X grams Added Sugars” directly beneath the listing for “Total Sugars”, so consumers could be informed about how much sugar is being added to each serving.
  • Changing the footnote to better explain the percent Daily Value. It will now read: “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

The New label Reveals a Refreshed Design:

  • The type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration, and bolding the “number of calories” and the “Serving size” declaration to highlight this information.
  • Manufacturers must now declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals as well.

The New label Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science:

  • The footnote is changing to better explain what percent Daily Value means. It will read: “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
  • “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label. Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • The list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared is being updated. Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed because research shows the TYPE of fat is more important than the amount.

The New label Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes:

  • By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to a cup, and the reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
  • Package size affects what people eat. So, for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.

See http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition, for highlights on serving sizes changes infographics and updated nutritional label requirements.

Manufacturers will have until July 26, 2018 to comply with the final requirements, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.  Additionally, foods imported to the United States will need to meet the final requirements.  So, let’s look forward to new and better changes in Nutrition Facts labels to make better and healthier food choices in our future.