The Nutrition Label's New Look

The food label on packaged food has been there since the early 1990’s. With all the label confusion, the FDA finally decided it was time the nutrition label got a makeover (we couldn’t agree more!). Although the proposed changes were released a few months ago, a new black and white food label photo was released this morning.
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The nutrition label currently on packaged food (above left) has been in place since the early 1990s. But earlier this year, the FDA announced that the Nutrition Facts label would be undergoing a makeover. This morning, the agency released details of the proposed label (above right).

Proposed Changes

One of the major changes is the emphasis on calories and serving sizes. The calories will appear in a larger, bold font, while the serving sizes will be a more accurate reflection of how most people eat today. For example, the serving size for ice cream has always been ½ cup. Now, the serving size will be a more realistic 1 cup. The 20-fluid ounce soda bottle that typically has 2.5 servings per container will now be labeled as one serving -- so consumers will no longer need to calculate the total amounts on their own. Among other proposed changes:

  • In an acknowledgment that not all fats are equal, the existing "calories from fat" will be removed but the listings will continue to include amounts for total fat, saturated fat and trans fat.
  • After years of debate, a separate line for added sugars will be included. This will help consumers better judge foods like yogurt, which may contain natural sugar (from the milk) as well as sugars that are added to the product to further sweeten it. Right now, both natural and added sugars are lumped together.
  • The percent daily values will also be shifting to the left, making them easier to find.
  • The nutrients displayed on the bottom on the label will change. The required nutrients will now be iron, calcium and newcomers vitamin D and potassium -- while Vitamins A and C would be optional to display.

If the label goes into effect after the current review period, food manufacturers would have two years to comply with any changes.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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