New Nutrition Labels Coming to a Supermarket Near You

By Mary Sowa, MS, RD and Emily Barr, MS, RD, clinical dietitians at CHOC Children’s

If you are like many consumers, the Nutrition Facts label found on most food packages can sometimes be confusing.  There are now changes being proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), aimed at making it easier for consumers to understand these labels and help them make healthier food choices. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) mandated that food packages come with a Nutrition Facts label starting in 1994. There has only been one change made in the last 20 years, which was the addition of trans fat to the label.

In light of National Nutrition Month, read below for the proposed label changes. If adopted, they may just affect the way you shop for food moving forward!

 

Proposed Changes Rationale
Food labels will have a new design The goal is to emphasize the serving sizes and calorie content.
“Added sugars” This label will appear to alert the consumer when sugar has been added to the product.
Adding potassium and vitamin D to label The nutrition facts will include both the content in mg or mcg and the % daily value. Calcium and iron content will continue as part of the label. Vitamin A and C are being removed.
Removal of calories from fat Total fat, saturated fat and trans fat will continue on the label.
Change in serving sizes By law this information is supposed to represent what Americans are “typically eating,” not necessarily what is an appropriate (healthy) serving size.
If the product has multiple servings, two labels will be required One label with include the nutrition information for the “amount per serving size” and a second label the “amount per container.”

 

A side-by-side comparison:

Current                                    Proposed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the changes have been approved, manufacturers will have two years to comply.

Other labeling news:

As part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there will be a national requirement for restaurants (with 20 or more locations) to list the calorie information for items on their menus. This not only covers restaurants, but also includes prepared foods sold at movie theaters, grocery stores and convenience stores.

The goal for these changes is to help Americans make more informed and healthier choices, which will hopefully lead to reduced rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

For more information, visit the FDA website.

For more nutrition tips, visit choc.org/health.

 

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