Nutrition Facts Get an Upgrade
The Nutrition facts label that we all know and love has only been around since 1993.¹ It was brought about by an increase in health consciousness and a desire to more easily pick foods that suited a person’s diet. That labeling system was useful but could still be misleading. That is why the FDA started working on a new standard for food labels back in 2016. After years of debate the new standards are coming into effect now. Large food companies already have implemented the new labels while smaller companies have until January of 2021 to update their packaging.
Here is a list of important changes that are coming to food packaging in the US.
One of the biggest problems with packaging was the use of “serving size.” This allowed companies to hide how many calories were in a package by saying that you were only supposed to eat part of what was inside. This meant that a company could say that you were only supposed to eat half of a single king size candy bar or only 3 cookies out of a package of Oreos. They used this to make it look like something had half the calories than what was actually inside the package.
Companies are now required to make serving sizes reflect what a person is actually likely to eat or drink in one sitting. A king size candy bar will be displayed as one serving. All nutrition facts about that one serving of one candy bar will be adjusted to reflect that change. If a package of food contains more than two servings but not so many servings that it is unlikely that a person could eat it all at once, like a one liter bottle of soda, that package has to have 2 nutrition labels. One for single serving and one for the entire package.
It is now no longer required to display nutrition information for Vitamins A and C. It was determined that Americans are almost never deficient for those two vitamins anymore so it is unnecessary to have them on the package. It is likely that many companies will keep those vitamins listed for marketing purposes because of the popularity of vitamin C.
- Fats will be displayed a little differently now. Companies are still required to list “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label. However “Calories from Fat” is not required because their research found the type of fat is more important than the amount. ²
- Daily value (DV) is getting updated each of the listed nutrients. It is still based on the 2000 calorie diet. Better science exists now for determining how much a person needs and how much is too much. The new packaging will reflect what has been changed from 20 years ago.
- Sugar information was improved by the addition of the “Added Sugars” line underneath “Total Sugar.” This is how much sugar was added during the creation process. Products like fruit, honey, or maple syrup that only contain the sugar that occurs naturally inside them will leave that line blank.
The USDA provided this handy diagram to help us understand the changes:
This new change in food packaging, along with looking at the ingredient list, will make it easier to make healthier choices when selecting food. If you would like to learn more about how food packaging can impact your health, give us a call at (312) 374-5399 or schedule a free consultation appointment online.
Submitted By Alexander Franz
Reviewed by Morgan Murdock, RD
1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols; Wartella EA, Lichtenstein AH, Boon CS, editors. Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Phase I Report. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010. 2, History of Nutrition Labeling. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209859/
2. Bonza, John E, et al. “Shoulder Injuries among United States High School Athletes during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 School Years.” Journal of Athletic Training, The National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Inc, 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2629044/
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/our-work/food-and-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/