Food Packaging Nutritional Label Changes Coming

27 July 2016,   By ,   0 Comments

Nutrition Facts labels play a key role in helping people make informed choices about their food. Whether your food comes in a box or a can, a Nutrition Facts label provides a quick and easy way to get important information about the food inside.1

The good news is the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has recently announced it will be updating the labels to help ensure you’re getting even more information to help you make healthy food choices.

Why now?

The current guidelines for nutrition labels haven’t been updated for more than 20 years. Over that time, the science behind nutrition has changed, as have people’s eating habits. The FDA has used multiple sources to help guide the label changes, including:

  • New scientific, nutrition, and public health research
  • Recent dietary recommendations from expert groups
  • Suggestions from the public

The current food labels are good. But they’re going to get better.

The new labels will now have more of the information that is important to you. Some highlights of the updates include:

The familiar, iconic look of the current label remains. However, the new layout now highlights key areas such as:

  • Calories per serving
  • Serving size
  • Servings per container

“Nutrition Facts” will continue to be featured at the top of the new label design in large, bold type.2

The meaning of “Serving size” will be updated to reflect how much people usually eat at one time, rather than how much they should eat. In some cases, the serving sizes will be bigger. Consider the following changes2:

  • A serving of soda will increase from 8 ounces to 12 ounces
  • A serving of ice cream will increase from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup
  • A serving of yogurt will decrease from 8 ounces to 6 ounces

Sugar that is added as part of the processing or manufacturing of the food will be called out as an “added sugar”. According to the FDA, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugar.

Reducing sugar intake is also in line with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The actual amount of vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron will have to be included—in addition to the Percent Daily Value. These are important nutrients that Americans don’t always get enough of. Food manufacturers can determine if vitamin A and C should be included.

“Calories from fat” will no longer appear on labels, however, “total fat”, “saturated fat”, and “trans fat” will remain. This is because knowing the type of fat can be more important than knowing the amount of fat.

For additional information on the Nutrition Facts label changes, we’ve included some helpful questions and answers.

  • When will the Nutrition Facts labels change?

    The changes won’t happen for a while. The makers of packaged foods have until 2018 to update their labels.2

  • What other changes will I see on the new labels?

    The footnote at the bottom of the label will explain the “Percent Daily Value” or how much a nutrient in a serving of food adds to a daily diet of 2,000 calories.2

    Depending on your age, sex, and your activity level, you may need less or more than 2,000 calories a day.3 Check with your health care provider or diabetes care team to find out what your goal should be.

  • Yes. Even with new label updates coming, the current labels can be an important part of helping you stay on your diabetes meal plan and maintain a healthy weight. Use these tips when considering whether to add an item to your shopping cart1:

    • Check the serving size. All the information on the label is based on the serving size
    • Use the labels to compare similar foods to see which offers a better choice for healthy eating1
    • Pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates and calories. Be sure to keep using the “total grams of carbohydrates” on the current label for carb counting.
    • Look for monounsaturated fats such as olive, peanut, and canola oils and polyunsaturated fats like corn, soybean, and sunflower oils. Remember, these fats can help protect your heart and lower cholesterol
    • Avoid “bad” fats, which can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. These include saturated fats in products, such as butter, meat, and tropical oils (coconut and palm). Also avoid trans fats, which can be present in processed foods and fast foods like French fries.
  • Will the new labels be required for imported food?

    Yes. Foods imported into the United States will have the new FDA food labels.2

If you still have questions, the FDA website has additional information about the Nutrition Facts label changes.

Keep in mind, when shopping for what to eat, you can choose foods without a label, too! Whole, fresh foods can be an important part of your meal plan. See how to make healthy eating delicious with healthy recipes from Cornerstones4Care®.

As new information becomes available for the nutrition label updates, we’ll be sure to keep you posted. So, check your inbox and visit often!

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