Smart and health conscious shoppers would always take a look at the nutrition label on the back of the product before making a purchase. These helpful labels list the ingredients and tell you the amount of vital vitamins and nutrients that the product contains. It helps to determine the nutritional value of the food and whether it has any harmful additives or preservatives.
As helpful as these labels can be, they can sometimes be misleading or leave out vital information. In 2016 the FDA made changes to the facts regulated on the nutrition facts labels to be even more helpful to consumers. This new makeover to the nutrition facts label focused on different aspects of food content and removing useless content.
Changes to Serving Sizes on the Nutrition Facts Label
The current nutritional fact labels can list some pretty unrealistic serving sizes and be vague of actual serving sizes. So the changes included serving sizes that people would actually eat. Some companies trying to make their products seem more health conscious would list tiny serving sizes in order to make the calories-per-serving smaller and attract more consumers looking to cut down on their calorie intake.
The new common-metric serving sizes are now listed as their measurement. For example, instead of it reading amount per serving it would read amount per cup or per tablespoon.
The changes also included the amount of calories for the whole package. For example, a 20 ounce soda might label the calories per 8 ounce serving. With the new label the consumer would see not only the calories in 8 ounces of this soda, but also, total calories in the bottle. This is helpful because many people would drink the whole bottle, not just a cupful.
Changes to Fat Content on the Nutrition Facts Label
Fats have been found to vary greatly in their nutritional value. For example, there are healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids but what the new label would require most is the labeling of saturated and trans fats as these are the most dangerous to our health. Based on studies done to learn more about fat consumption and the effects of different types of fat, labels now focus on the types of fat included in the product.
Changes to Sugar Content on the Nutrition Facts Label
The average daily sugar intake of Americans is much higher than it should be, and most of this sugar consumption is due to sugar added to the products, not what is naturally contained. Labels are now geared towards showing the consumer how much added sugars are in each product so they are aware of how much unnatural sugars are in the foods they are consuming and hopefully make more conscious decisions to cut down on their sugar intake.
Changes to Daily Values of Nutrients
Labels are now required to clearly display the amount of vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron. This decision was based on the fact that many Americans have a deficiency in many of these nutrients. By labeling these, consumers can choose products higher in these nutrients if they know they are lacking.
Additionally, the daily values of dietary fiber and sodium have been updated to a healthier amount per day. Fiber increased and sodium decreased.
Visual Changes of Nutrition Facts Label
In order for consumers to quickly get the most important information with a quick skim, the nutrition facts labels now have a bigger font for calories-per-serving and serving size. The daily values also moved to the left side instead of the right. The hope is that consumers will see the most important aspect of a products nutritional value first instead of searching for the information that matters most.
Goal of the Newly Proposed Nutrition Facts Label
It’s no secret that the American diet isn’t the healthiest. These new label changes are meant to inform consumers in hopes they will make better choices. These new labels can help those who already battle diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, as well as the average consumer.
For example, the emphasis of the calories and updated serving size helps us know a more accurate amount of calories we are consuming so we can more accurately manage our intake. The sodium content listing helps those who have been told by their doctor to reduce their salt intake due to high blood pressure or kidney problems. The added sugar listed helps those who have diabetes know when they are eating products that wouldn’t normally have sugar.
Put plainly, these changes to the nutrition labels by the FDA are meant to make a positive impact on the overall health of the American public by helping them to be more informed of what they are eating. With the amount of processed and factory-made foods consumed in the U.S., it can be hard to know exactly what you are eating and what companies are putting into these products. The FDA has a responsibility in keeping these companies as honest as possible.
Still More Changes to Nutrition Facts Label Needed
Many doctors believe that nutritional labels can be even more improved. Nutritional researchers and dietitians alike claim that the American food labels still pale in comparison to other countries’ labels, including Canada’s which list whether artificial sweeteners are used.
A former FDA chief wants to see a better listing of the types of sugars, especially the added sugars in products, and a listing of the top three ingredients labeled on the front of the package instead of on the side. This would allow the general public to see the probable health value of a product even before they read the side label. If you are trying to decide between two similar products and the product on the right has three natural ingredients listed and the product on the left has sugar, flour, and hydrogenated oils the choice would be easy. Many experts also want to see an updated daily value percentage reflecting a more healthy percentage.
Implimentation of these changes may still be underway. The FDA is working closely with food manufacturers to meet requirements (see their updates at https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label). And just as the FDA does, KDV works closely with customers to help ensure requirements are met, while helping to ensure their labels look great of course!