The First Lady Unveils Revamped Food Nutrition Label

At the Partnership for a Healthier America Building a Healthier Future Summit on May 20 in Washington, D.C., first lady (and PHA honorary chair) Michelle Obama unveiled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s refreshed Nutrition Facts label. A label redesign may not seem like big news, but it is.

First, because this is the only time the label has significantly changed since it debuted 20 years ago. And second, because the FDA has been under mounting pressure from food manufacturers and consumers alike to re-evaluate what was criticized as an out-of-date tool for determining the nutritional value of packaged foods.

It’s also a big victory for the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which aims to raise a healthier generation of kids. “I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” she said. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

So what are the most-important changes?

The revamped format makes key information such as “calories” and “servings per container” easier to see at a glance.

In addition to the existing “total sugars” information, “added sugars” must now be declared to show consumers how much sugar is added to the product during processing.

Out-of-date serving sizes have been revised to better reflect the portions consumers actually eat.

Whether you’re watching your sodium, teaching your kids how to keep sugar, fat and calories in check, or trying to avoid that moment when you realize the seemingly healthy snack you just ate was meant to be four servings — not one — the label is your best tool for making informed food choices. But while the more user-friendly label will make it easier for consumers to navigate what foods they put in their grocery carts, don’t expect to see it overnight; manufacturers have two to three years to implement the change.

Photographs courtesy of Partnership for a Healthier America and the Federal Drug Administration