By 2018, Your Food Label Will Never Look the Same Again

Here’s what to expect…

Did you know that your regular ol’ nutrition label will soon be changing?

Perhaps you didn’t.

Even though it was in May 2016 that the FDA announced a new type of label for food packages, you haven’t missed the new labels yet. They’ll be making their official appearance at your nearest grocery store no later than July 2018.

But why do we even need new labels?

It’s a good question that many people are asking. To keep it short, the old ones are… well, old. In our fast changing society, shit like this has to change eventually. And its been, like, 20 years.

Research has evolved, and so must our food labels. The FDA reports that “the new label will make it easier for the consumer to make better informed food choices.” Right on!

Here are a the changes you can expect:

Updated Design

  1. Increased type size: for calories, servings per container, and the serving size.
  2. Bold type: for calories and serving Size
  3. Amount of vitamins: In addition to the percentage of vitamins, labels must bare the amount of vitamins present in the product. That includes vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron. And they are allowed to voluntarily address the amount of other vitamins and minerals.
  4. Percent daily value update: The footnote will now include a more detailed approach to this enigmatic piece. The FDA reports that “it will 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.’”

More Information

  1. Sugar — boasting an infamous reputation these days — will be spotlighted with a new “added sugars” section in addition to the percent Daily Value. Consumers should be aware that it’s difficult to stay within the recommended daily calories if more than 10% of those calories come from sugar. The FDA points to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as the guiding light on the sugar/calorie front.
  2. Required nutrients: The old label required calcium, iron, vitamins A and C. The new label requires Vitamin D and potassium but no longer requires vitamins A and C. These can be added at will.
  3. Fat: These days research points to fat as a health food. And our labels will now reflect this growing trend. The FDA requires that “Calories from fat” be removed from labels, stating that “the type of fat is more important than the amount.” Hear, hear!
  4. Daily values: Different nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin D, and sodium are being updated according to recent research and in accordance with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report.

Serving and Package sizes

  1. Serving sizes: There’s a law that says serving sizes have to reflect what the population actually consumes. And when was the last time you ate only a 1/2 cup of ice-cream? Never. Now labels are required to reflect increased serving sizes such as a 2/3 cup for ice cream or 12 ounces versus eight for soda.
  2. Package size: Now here’s the real kicker. The size of the package often determines how much a person eats. If it’s one can of soup, then a person will eat the whole can. So if the serving size technically is a bit smaller than that the label must reflect the fact that the individual will most likely eat the whole can of soup. No math involved for the consumer. They just look, know, and eat.
  3. Package size cont’d: If the product can be consumed in one or multiple sittings, then the product must now include multiple columns of information. The manufacturer must include the “per serving” amount and the “per package” amount. For example, a pint of ice cream could be consumed in either one sitting or multiple depending on the individual. Dual columns will make it easier for consumers to understand what the heck is going on inside their food and, subsequently, their bodies.

As a nutrition nerd and health enthusiast, I am excited about these changes.

I’m happy to see the FDA follow updated research and make appropriate changes. We still have a long way to go on the nutrition front in terms of education and reducing consumption of processed foods and sugar as a nation. But we’re one step closer now.