Nutrition Facts Labels Changing – Eventually

The current nutritional label (food label) can be very confusing: who really knows what 15% of Vitamin A really means? Did you know a 15 oz. can of soup is 2 servings? The good news is a newer, more user friendly nutritional label is coming.

The new label was originally scheduled to be on all food packaging by July 2018, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now planning to delay the release of the new food label until January 2020.

A survey by the FDA found 77 percent of Americans use the existing nutrition facts label at least some of time. Many use it to help with weight loss or special diets for managing chronic disease like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Rachel Wagner, MS, LD, a licensed dietitian at St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center says, “The new label is designed to be more user friendly—not only in design but also in the type of information it provides.”

The key changes to the new label are:

  • Portion sizes – Portion sizes will come more in line with how people really eat. Today, a 15 oz. can of soup is 2 servings, it will be 1 serving under the new guidelines.
  • Design – Serving size and calories will be in larger font and bolded so they are easier to find and read.
  • Dual column labels – Some food packages, due to packaging size, could be consumed in one sitting. The dual column label will have both “per serving” and “per package” information side by side, so the consumer will understand what nutrients they are getting if they eat the whole package.
  • Sugar identification – Decreasing added sugar is important to a healthy diet. Currently the label has “total sugar,” which can be confusing since some foods, such as 100% fruit juice, are naturally higher sugar. The new label will identify “added sugars,” so you can more easily separate those foods naturally higher in sugar from those that have sugars added during processing.
  • Vitamins and mineral – The current label shows only a percentage of daily value based on consuming 2000 calories a day. But not everyone follows a 2000 calorie diet and you still don’t know the actual amount in the food. The new label will show actual amounts in terms of micrograms (mcg) and milligrams (mg).

Wagner talks about the changes to the new label, “There are more changes that may be noticed that are based on the current research and nutrient needs of Americans. Overall the new nutritional labels should be more user friendly and easier to read, enabling you to make better choices for your health.”

Although the FDA may be delaying the mandatory use of these labels until 2020, some manufacturers have already begun using the new label design.

If you need help keeping your weight goals on track, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling (859) 212-4625.