The new food labels: What you need to know

Do you read nutrition labels on packaged food when you’re grocery shopping? Find the type difficult to read? Or the nutrition information confusing? If so, you’ll be happy to learn that the FDA approved changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, including a redesign that should improve readability and information about added sugars.

Key changes to the nutrition facts label

Here are some of the changes you’ll appreciate:

new nutrition label

Source: fda.gov

  • Larger or bolder type. In the new design, you can’t miss the number of calories per serving or what size a single serving is. The number of servings per package is also a larger type size.
  • Serving sizes will be updated to be more realistic about how much most people consume. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda would be labeled one serving.
  • There is a new category for added sugars. This is important information since Americans eat 16 percent of their daily calories from sweeteners added during food production, even though they provide no nutritional value.
  • Percentages of daily values will be easier to read by appearing directly left of the nutrient. The FDA is also updating the values for some nutrients.
  • “Calories from Fat” is being eliminated. That’s because we now know that the type of fat you consume is more important than total amount of fat in your diet.
  • Potassium and vitamin D will be required on the new label, but it’s no longer mandatory that vitamins A and C be listed. These changes reflect which nutrients Americans are failing to consume enough of and need to look for. Apparently most of us are doing a good job getting enough vitamin C and A.

Understanding food labels

Savvy, health-conscious consumers have been reading food labels for years, scanning the fine print nutrition facts panel for above average levels of calories, sodium, sugar or fat. The new labels should make it easier for the general public to make more informed food choices. Reading food labels is particularly important if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or are trying to lose weight. That said, know that the new label will not appear on products immediately. Manufacturers will have two years to comply, until July 26, 2018.