The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is brewing significant changes in packaged food and drinks. For the first time since 1994, the nutrition facts label is being updated. The FDA also proposed new standards for labeling “healthy” food. Don’t worry – the contents of your favorite foods won’t change, but their exterior will.
“Since 1994, Americans’ perception of what is healthy has changed dramatically,” said Kaylan Crowther, a Bariatric Dietitian at Saint Joseph Weight Loss Center. She provided insight into the changes, and what you can expect.
New Nutrition Label
The nutrition facts label helps you follow dietary guidelines, and many Americans reference the labels to achieve daily nutrition.
“People use food labels to make important decisions about which foods to include in their home,” said Crowther. “They deserve to have access to a full, accurate picture.”
The refreshed nutrition facts reflect the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines, created by healthcare professionals and policymakers, are based on current nutrition science.
So what’s new?
- 1. Serving Size
- Did you know that serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat? Instead, it references the typical serving preferences of that food/drink. The change includes revisited serving preferences and an updated large, bolded font size.
- 2. Calories
- Calories are now easier to find with a larger, bolder font. The 2,000 calories a day general diet recommendation is still intact, but adjust for size and age.
- 3. Daily Values (%DV)
- The %DV has changed to reflect current guidelines. The label footnote text now better explains %DV. You may see these totals changing on your favorite foods.
- 4. Updated Nutrients
- Added sugars, Vitamin D, and potassium are now required label additions. No longer required calories from fat, as research shows the type of fat is more important, and Vitamin A and C, as deficiencies in those are uncommon.
“Eating a nutrient-dense diet is crucial for maximum satiety, that is, feeling satisfied from the foods we eat,” said Crowther. “Nutrient-dense foods also reduce the risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke.”
How “Healthy” Is Changing
The FDA’s proposed rule redefines “healthy” labels. It sets new standards for the word such as limitations on saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
The previous rule was based on individual food nutrient levels, rather than nutrients as a whole. For example, this allowed “healthy” labels on high-sugar breakfast cereal, but not foods like salmon, because of its fat and vitamin content.
This change would regain trust in the “healthy” label, and better inform your fridge and pantry.
“We deserve to feel nourished from the foods we eat, and choose nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and fruits,” said Crowther.