Changes to food labels announced by the FDA

Shoppers are going to be getting new and improved nutrition information on many food labels.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced new requirements for the Nutrition Facts label that’s printed on most package foods so that they more closely match the way people eat food in 2016.

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” says FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

fda-new-labelWhat’s changing on the food labels

  • Serving sizes will be required to more closely match what people actually eat and drink. It’s been more than two decades since the last serving size requirements were published.  Eating habits have changed a lot since then.
  • The food labels will show how much sugar has been added to the food or drink.  They’ll also show the percent of your daily calories these sugars represent.  The FDA recommends that “added sugars” should make up no more than 10 percent of your calories each day.
  • There will be two column on the label for foods that can be consumed in one, or in more than one, sitting.  For example, a pint of ice cream or a 3 ounce bag of chips might be shared or you might binge on it yourself.  One column will show the calories and nutrition information for the whole package and another will show it for one serving.
  • The recommended daily values for nutrients, like salt, fiber and vitamin D, will be updated to match the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • The Vitamin D and potassium will be show as the actual amount of grams in the product, as well as the recommended daily value.  That’s because, the FDA says, people aren’t getting enough of these nutrients.  This information is currently required for calcium and iron. Vitamins A and C will be removed from this list because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required to be shown.

What labels aren’t changing

The Nutrition Facts label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

When will you see the new food labels

The wheels of government turn very slowly.  The Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago. In March 2014 the FDA proposed two rules to update the label and in July 2015 it issued a supplemental proposed rule.

Most food manufacturers will have until July 26, 2018 to begin using the new label. Smaller manufacturers have an additional year to get it done.

 

 

About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at Rx411. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years. This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns. He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.