This change is in the making for years: the FDA first announced the new rules on May 27, 2016, stating that the changes should reflect progress in food science. This label change is the first major update since the FDA first introduced uniform food labeling in 1994. According to the FDA, these changes are "based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups and public input."
The new label is also more realistic about what people eat today and what feeds chronic diseases. The added sugar requirement reflects, for example, knowledge about sugar and the relationship with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
The overall goal is to help consumers make informed decisions about food that will improve their health and nutrition.
When will these changes take effect?
Large food producers with an annual turnover of more than $ 10 million were needed to make the switch as of January 1, 2020. Some major brands of food and beverages, such asand Hershey & # 39; s have their products renamed years ago – meet the original July 28, 2018 deadline (the FDA later reset this date to the 2020 deadline).
Smaller companies – companies with annual sales of less than $ 10 million – must comply with the new label rules until January 1, 2021. However, look around and you will notice that many smaller brands have already started the switch.
New food label versus old
The new label looks more or less the same as the old one, and that is precisely why it is important to know what you are looking at (and why you are looking at it). .
Portion sizes on labels have increased to reflect the quantities that people actually consume today. This helps consumers to better estimate portion sizes and calorie equivalents. The FDA uses ice as an example: the old portion was half a cup, and the new portion is two-thirds of a cup to show the amount of ice cream that most people eat at one time.
This seems counterintuitive when there is so much talk about the obesity epidemic, but the FDA says that "portions should be based on the amounts of food and drink that people usually consume, not how much they should consume" and recent food consumption data show that people eat larger portions than before.
Double portion label
Some packaged foods contain more than one portion, but can be eaten in one go. For example, a pint of ice cream contains more than one portion, but people often eat a whole pint as a single portion. So the label on a pint of ice would have a double label with the calories for one portion and the whole pint.
This change is simple: the calorie section is larger and bold, so this is the first thing you see. Although there is some controversy about counting calories, a calorie when it comes to maintaining or losing weight is a calorie and it is important to know (at least roughly) how much you consume.
The traditional food label mentioned "calories from fat" in addition to "calories per serving". New food sciences have shown that the type of fat that is consumed is more important than the amount of fat that is consumed, so the new label contains no & # 39; calories from fat & # 39 ;. The new label still shows grams of unsaturated, saturated and trans fats, as well as the percentage of the recommended daily intake.
Food manufacturers must now state how much of the sugar in their products is added sugar. This is perhaps the most important change, because the added sugar consumption in the US is far too high, with the average American consuming 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
Added sugars include any sugars that are added during processing or are packaged as sugar (such as a bag of table sugar). Sugar from honey and syrups, as well as concentrated fruit and vegetable juices, also fit under the umbrella with added sugars.
The new label contains a daily value percentage for added sugars because the FDA recommends keeping the total added sugar intake to less than 10. % of total calories. Exceeding that according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans makes it very difficult to comply with other dietary recommendations.
The nutrition part of the label now shows vitamin D, calcium, potassium and iron. The old label stated quantities for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. The changes reflect the fact that most Americans do not get enough vitamin D and potassium every day, and vitamin A and C deficiencies are rare.
The label also shows the amounts of nutrients in milligrams in addition to the percentage of daily recommended intake. The old label only showed the percentage.
The footnote at the bottom of the label has been redrafted to better explain what "daily percentage value" means. The% DV of an ingredient tells you how much an ingredient contributes to the total amount of that ingredient that you need each day. The% DV & # 39; s are still based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.