If you’re in the habit of reading food packaging labels in the grocery store to determine your food purchases, you’re one of millions of people striving to make healthier choices about the food you feed yourself and your family. You might count calories, sugars or carbohydrates and do the math on serving size versus total net carbs. This takes dedication and a willingness to withstand the stares and glares of fellow shoppers while you block the aisle with your shopping cart and take the time to compute the daily values of your food intake. Take heart! It looks like label reading is going to get a little bit easier for you in the coming months.
On May 20th, the Food and Drug Administration announced that they’ve finalized changes to the nutrition labels you see on all your food items in the grocery store. The purpose of the changes is to give the consumer a more realistic picture of the nutritional values of their food and how it affects their overall health and well being. Including the links between diet and chronic illnesses such as obesity and heart disease. These new labels will have a little different format and will contain some new information as well as omitting current information that may no longer be as pertinent to consumer health as it once was considered to be.
It’s been more than twenty years since standard labeling has been updated. The list of nutrients that must be declared by food producers has been updated to include “Added Sugars.” This was deemed important because up to 13% of total calories in most foods comes from added sugars. Vitamin D and Potassium have been added as these are nutrients that many Americans don’t currently have enough of in their diet. The role these nutrients play in the prevention of chronic illness and overall good health, such as Vitamin D for bone health and Potassium for healthy blood pressure, has led to them being included in the new labeling requirements. Other important nutrients such as Calcium and Iron are going to continue to be included.
Vitamins A and C values are no longer required as the FDA determined that the average consumer’s diet is currently rich enough in A and C, whereas , in the 1990’s many diets were lacking those particular vitamins. Manufacturers must now declare the actual amount as well as the percentage of daily value for the nutrients they include. This gives a more clear picture for the consumer to understand the role of their food in their overall nutrition and health.
The FDA has changed the footnote to better explain the percent Daily Value of the nutrients in your food. It will now read: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
There have been changes made to the layout and typeface design of the new labels. The “calories” and “serving size” portions are now in larger bold type to highlight their importance. Serving size requirements have also been changed to more realistically reflect the average portion size that people eat.” This takes away the math and mystery surrounding serving size for all of us who count calories and exercise portion control.
The new FDA labeling requirements are being implemented now and food producers will have until July 20,2018 to comply with the new labeling format. Smaller companies with less than $10 million in annual revenue may take up to an additional year to implement the changes (July 2019).
These new rules apply to food produced both domestically produced and imported foods. Don’t worry , you’ll still recognize the nutrition labels even after the changes take place. There will just be some more visible and relevant information provided. Be on the lookout for the new labels coming soon to a store near you.