Blog Author: Alyssa Furman, NIFS Intern
The Food and Drug Administration is announcing the biggest overhaul to Nutrition Facts labels since 1994.
The new labels are geared toward society’s evolution in nutrition and dietary recommendations that have occurred over the past 20 years. Some of the biggest proposed changes include an adjustment to the serving size, making calorie counts more prominent to consumers, exposing any added sugar, and declaring nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamin D.
According to leading experts, the change in serving size will become “more realistic” since consumers are now eating more than two decades ago. For example, ½ C serving of ice cream will turn to 1c. This does not mean that we should consume more, but just make people aware of what they are actually consuming. A bottled beverage, such as soda, needs to provide accurate nutritional information for the entire bottle, not split between multiple servings. If someone buys a bottle, they are going to drink the whole thing, not measure out a serving.
A larger, bold font will be used in regards to calorie count at the top of each label. Consumers won’t be able to miss this one, as the FDA hopes this will have a true impact. By making packages easier to read, there is a good change the obesity rate will decrease, according to a recent study, which analyzed the positive effects of reading nutrition labels to lower overall BMI.
Currently Americans are consuming more added sugars that ever before. With an astounding 23 teaspoons per day, compared to the 6-9teaspoon recommendation from the American Heart Association. Have you checked the label of some of your favorite items? People may be taking in close to 15 teaspoons of added sugar just from one soda. It is very difficult to know how much of this added sugar is in the things we love to eat with the current information on nutrition labels. For example, you may see 18g of sugar in a container of yogurt. However some of this sugar is naturally occurring, which means it cannot be removed, like milk sugar, or fruit sugar. The problem is what is being added. Added sugars are NOT the same as natural sugar and they need to be distinguished on labels. Added sugars have been linked to many health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. Having an idea of such sugars will help consumers make more conscious choices.
New labels will also include facts on nutrients such as Vitamin D, Calcium, and Potassium. Facts such as these may help consumers to reach their Daily Recommended Values of such nutrients, as society as a whole is lacking in this department.
These new labels should be much simpler for consumers to understand as they rush though the aisles of their local grocery store in their busy schedules. There will be a 90 day public comment period about the changes, followed by a final ruling on label changes. If proposed changes are adopted, they will be phased in over the course of the next 2 years.
What do you think of these new changes to the nutrition facts label?