Fiber

Food Label Gets a Facelift

Food Label Gets a FaceliftFor 20 years the Nutrition Facts panel has graced the packaging of foods we eat in the United States. But today, the FDA will announce their long overdue proposed changes to the ubiquitous label.

Why the need for change?

In the 20 years that the Nutrition Facts panel has been around, Americans have gotten fatter. The label in its current form doesn’t reflect the most updated nutrition science or realistic portion sizes.

Here’s what the food label has looked like since 1993:

And here’s what the proposed, updated label might now look like:

Food Label Gets a Facelift

The basic changes to the label are in the following areas:

Serving Sizes

  • New serving sizes more reflective of how we eat and drink today
  • Label information now aims to reflect portions people actually eat (examples: soda goes from 8 oz to 12 or 20 oz; yogurt goes from 1 cup to 3/4 cup, ice cream goes from 1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • Dual columns for larger packages that show both “per serving” and “per package” data

Sugars

  • Require “added sugars” section – finally!
  • All sugars are not created equal: an added sugars line will help consumers differentiate between naturally occurring sugars (like the kind you find in milk and fruit) or added, refined sugars, which are less healthful

Fat

  • Removal of “calories from fat” line, because research suggests that the total type of fat is more important than amount

Updated Nutrient Values

  • Updates to daily values of sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D
  • Addition of vitamin D and potassium to label
  • Vitamins A and C inclusion goes to voluntary status
  • Calcium and iron continue to be required

Design Overhaul

  • Increase prominence of calories and serving sizes – bigger font
  • Swap Percent Daily Value (%DV) columns so it appears first before nutrient name
  • Update to footnote to more clearly explain the meaning of %DV

The FDA will be collecting public comment for the next 90 days. You can find the FDA’s 367-page proposed rule here.

To learn more about the proposed changes, check out my interview on KPBS’ Evening Edition this week about the “Nutrition Label Gets a Makeover“.

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