For the last 20 years, people have depended on the food label on the back of products to determine if it fits the health criteria they’re looking for – low fat, low sugar, low calorie, low carb, etc… Since introduced, that label has never changed, until now.
Two of the major issues that we are happy they are changing are…
1. Serving Size: Serving sizes are often overlooked, and people don’t realize, just because it’s one bottle of soda, doesn’t meant it’s one serving of soda. For example, a 20 ounce Coke lists 100 calories per serving, and most people assume that one bottle equals one serving. Wrong. One serving is 8 ounces, so one 20 ounce bottle is actually 2.5 servings, bringing the calories per bottle to 240. Let’s be honest, who drinks to the 8 ounce mark and then saves it for later? With the new label, the serving size will be hard to miss and some foods that are typically consumed in one sitting (like a soda) will be required to list the values for the entire contents, not just a serving.
2. Added Sugars: We all know there is a HUGE difference between naturally occurring sugars, and sugar that has been added by the manufacturer. Added sugars provide no additional nutrient value, and are often referred to as “empty calories.” For the first time “Added Sugars” would be included on the label.
NOTE: Now, is this enough? Not really. There are other things like GMO’s, artificial colorings and dyes that could be made more pronounced on all labels, BUT it is a nice step in the right direction.
The Old Label vs. The New Label
Some of the changes to the label, straight from the FDA.gov website:
- Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
- Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.
- Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
- Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
- Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
- While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.
* The changes proposed today affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.