Here’s a look at the new Nutrition Facts label that the FDA approved last week. Manufacturers have two years to comply with the new labeling rules.
On May 20, 2016, the FDA finalized the look of a new Nutrition Facts label for food packaging. The label accounts for the way that consumers eat food today, which is different from how we ate 26 years ago, when the label we use now was created.
The original Nutrition Facts label was created in 1990 and first appeared on food packaging in 1991. The label was part of the Nutrition Labeling Education Act, which also tried to reign in health claims on food labels.
The new Nutrition Facts label is required on most food by July 26, 2018. Smaller companies – ones that make less than $10 million in annual sales – have until July of 2019 to update their labels.
One important change to the new label is serving size. The FDA now recognizes that if you buy a 20 ounce bottle of soda, chances are, you’re going to drink that whole bottle. The new Nutrition Facts label takes the impact of package size on serving size into account.
They FDA created a graphic to help explain the serving size changes:
Another big change on the new label is that it breaks out natural sugars from added sugars. With so many hidden sugar sources on ingredients lists, it can be hard to tell how much added sugar is in a product. The new Nutrition Facts label solves this problem by requiring that food companies list added sugar in grams.
The new nutrition label also updates serving sizes. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what 55 grams of something looks like. But 2/3 cup is an amount we can all understand. The changes are meant to help consumers better understand what’s in our food.
Food advocacy groups are excited about the new label, too. The Union of Concerned Scientists applauded the new Nutrition Facts label, especially the added sugar labeling. Not only does the new label break out the amount of added sugars, it lists a percent daily value to help you put those grams into context.
In a press release, senior analyst and program manager from the Center for Science and Democracy Pallavi Phartiyal said, “A percent daily value will help consumers to put the added sugar amount in context of their total food consumption for the day, and to understand whether the amount of sugar listed on the label is low or high.”
The FDA has created some helpful graphics showing the changes to the new label.
And here’s their graphic comparing the old label to the new:
As the graphic above illustrates, the new Nutrition Facts label also adjust nutrient requirements. Many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D or potassium, for example, so these important nutrients will now be listed on food labels. Likewise, vitamins A and C are no longer required, since these deficiencies are no longer common.
Images via FDA.