Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

  • Posted Mar 17, 2014
  • Jessica Weissman, MS, RD, LDN

Since 1993, the only major change to the Nutrition Facts label has been the requirement to declare trans fat, effective in 2006. Since the Nutrition Facts label is such an important tool to help people make better food choices, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the label in order to more closely reflect how much American’s actually eat. These changes are intended to have a major impact on food choices and American public health, especially in individuals with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The proposal includes changes to the label’s design to highlight key parts such as total calories and serving sizes.

On average, Americans get 16 percent of their total calories from added sugars in products such as soda, energy drinks, and dairy-based desserts and candy, and health experts recommend that Americans should reduce their intake of calories from added sugar. The new label would require more information about “added sugars” so that consumers who want to limit their added sugar intake can compare brands carrying similar products.

Nutrition Facts Labels Serving Size Changes

Additionally, because the amount of consumption of foods has changed over the past 20 years, the new labels would include serving sizes which reflect the amounts people actually eat (see image). In fact, by law, the serving size information must be based on what people actually eat, not on what they “should” be eating. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda would be labeled as one serving rather than as more than one serving. Other proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label include requiring the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, changing the layout to emphasize certain parts such as percent daily value, and increasing the daily value for sodium intake. The proposed changes would affect all packaged foods except those regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, including certain meat, poultry, and processed egg products. The proposed rules are available for public comment for 90 days. For more information, please visit the FDA website.

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