The Food and Drug Administration recently announced the Nutrition Facts Panel is being changed for the first time since 1993. The Panel, the listing of calories, fat, vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional facts found on most packaged food in the US, is being changed to reflect new understandings about nutrition and diet. The goal is to make it easier for people to make informed choices about the food they eat.
The FDA announced the changes in May of this year, and the new Panel format will be phased in over the next two to three years. Here’s what to expect in the new labeling:
More Realistic Serving Sizes: Serving sizes form the basis for all the other information on the panel, but current listed serving sizes are often smaller than what people actually eat, which can cause confusion.
For example, 19oz. cans of prepared soup will often list a serving size of half a can and display the amount of calories, fat, sodium, and other important information based on that serving size. In reality, many people eat the whole can of soup. Although this can lead to consumption of more calories and sodium than is recommend, the new labeling guidelines will more accurately reflect what most people actually consume. Therefore, in this example, these cans of soup will list the serving size as the entire can, and the nutrition facts panel will reflect these changes accordingly.
Experts are quick to point out, though, that the serving size listed on the label is not always the recommended portion size, and suggest people use resources like the The MyPlate guidelines to judge appropriate portion sizes for themselves.
Changes To What Vitamins And Nutrients Are Listed: Vitamins that most Americans get enough of already, such as vitamins A and C will be removed from the label; while nutrients such as vitamin D and potassium, which many Americans do not get enough of, will now be on the label.
More Information About Added Sugar: In response to growing concerns about the amount of sugar in the American diet, the current listing of the amount of sugar in a product will be broken down to show how much of the sugar in a food is naturally occurring and how much is added sugar.
More Accurate Percent Daily Values: The more realistic portion sizes included in the new labeling will mean more accurate percent Daily Values (% DV), the recommended percentages of vitamins and other nutrients often listed in table form on the label.
The new labeling will also reflect recommendations that calories from added sugar should make up less than 10% of a person’s daily calories, and there will be a new percent Daily Value listed for added sugar to help people keep track of this.
The new labels should be a welcome boon for people as they decide what to buy, what to eat, and what to feed their families.
Blog by Andrea Berez, MS, RD, CSP