On The Table

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What You Should Know About the New FDA Food Label

The new food label is intended to complement better and easier food choices. Learn all about the upcoming changes and how the new food label may influence your health decisions!

What You Should Know About the New FDA Food Label

With obesity rates on the rise, the new food label is intended to accompany better and easier food choices. Learn all about the new upcoming changes and how the new food label may influence your health decisions!

Nutrition Labeling Basics

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced the nutrition label in 1994. The label is a depiction of the nutrition of the food products that we choose and can further guide our health choices. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, the label features daily values on common nutrients to reflect general nutrition advice. But with the nutrition world ever evolving with new and current research, changes must be made to reflect data and get put into practice.

Out with the Old, In with the New

The side-by-side figure below helps visualize the new proposed changes compared to the old label. Core differences include:

Updated Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are not only bolder, but reflects the amount people actually are apt to eat. Example serving size changes include one cup of ice cream instead of a half cup and 12 ounces of soda rather than the current 8 ounces.

Bolder and Larger Calories
It is not hard to notice the "in your face" calorie number on the new label. Experts are hopeful large calorie servings will raise awareness on how much energy is in food.

Deleted "Calories from Fat"
The new label left off the "Calories from Fat" and features "Total Fat," "Saturated Fat," and "Trans Fat." The latest research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount.

New "Added Sugars"
For the first time, the label will feature "added sugars." Previously, it was basically impossible to differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars in products such as peaches or chocolate milk.

Updated Daily Values
In the proposed label, values are formatted from left to right to accommodate how the brain reads and comprehends. Some values are adjusted to foster good health in the general population. Since most Americans overeat sodium, the newly lowered daily value is in hopes to reduce sodium added in prepackaged and processed foods by manufacturers.

Revised Nutrients
Vitamins A and C are no longer required on the label, as they are now rare deficiencies in the general population. Instead, new food label requirements include vitamin D, iron, potassium, and calcium to (hopefully) increase their consumption. Numeric values further compliment the percent daily value, as individuals may be able to identify and recognize units (such as milligrams or mg) over percentages.

How the Updated Nutrition Label Effects You

One of the biggest highlights of the new label is the introduction of added sugars. With sugar consumption linked to obesity and chronic diseases, seeing the numbers will hopefully result in better food choices. Additionally, food companies may reformulate their products to reduce the sugar content in their products, ultimately aligning with more healthful choices.

The new serving sizes, though, have been worrisome. The evolution of portion sizes has vastly grown and a factor to overweight and obesity rates. This poses the concern that individuals will automate the larger serving sizes are suggested recommendations, as the new label reflects how much people do eat, not how much they should eat. Other experts hope the changed serving sizes will lead people to be more cautious and aware on how many calories they are consuming.

Additionally, the nutrients added are generally low in the American diet yet critical for health. Having them on the label may encourage their intake and reduce the risk of deficiencies. Expect to witness the new label between now and July 26th, 2018 unless further compliance standards apply. For more information, check out the official FDA page.