Your Nutrition Label is Likely to Change for the Better

Ellen MichalBy Ellen Michal, RD, CDE, Lifestyle and Disease Management Center at Duke Raleigh

Do you find nutrition labels a conundrum–a difficult riddle to solve? Well, you aren’t alone. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label (found on most food packaging in the United States) to help consumers make more informed food choices.

Suggested changes include:

  • Require information about Added Sugars. Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugar because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing calorie intake.
  • Update daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D and require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and vitamin D as they are new nutrients of public health significance.
  • Continue to require Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat, but remove Calories from Fat because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Change the serving size requirements to reflect how people eat and drink today, which has changed since serving sizes were first established 20 years ago. By law, the label information on serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what they should be eating.
  • Require packaged foods (including drinks) that are typically eaten in one sitting be labeled as a single serving and that calorie and nutrient information be declared for the entire package. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda, typically consumed in a single sitting, would be labeled as one serving rather than as more than one serving.
    • For larger packages (24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream) that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers would have to provide dual column labels to indicate both per serving and per package calories and nutrient information. This way, people would be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package at one time.
  • Make calories and serving sizes more prominent.
  • Shift the Percent Daily Value to the left of the label so it comes first. This is important because this value tells you how much of certain nutrients you are getting from a particular food in the context of a total daily diet.

If adopted, the proposed changes would look like this.

Original vs. Proposed

Nutrition Facts

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