You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and that’s why you carefully check food labels to ensure that the foods you eat are nutritious. However, consumers have often expressed confusion and frustration over Nutrition Facts labels, claiming the labels are difficult to read or do not provide necessary information.
In response to popular demand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a new design for the Nutrition Facts labels. The new labels are intended to provide the information consumers really need, while cutting out extra, unwanted facts which tend to clutter the labels.
In particular, the new nutrition labels will include the following changes:
Vitamin D and calcium content. Vitamin D and calcium play essential roles in bone health, disease prevention, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure, yet many Americans are not consuming enough of these nutrients. Public health experts hope that these additional requirements will help consumers to make smart food choices.
Daily values have changed. New scientific research indicates that “daily values” that we have been using for fat, dietary fiber, and vitamin D, were incorrect. Food labels will change to reflect these new daily values, expressed as a percentage.
“Calories from fat” content has been eliminated. Research has shown that the type of fat you eat matters much more than the total amount of fat that you eat. Therefore, this detail has been eliminated from nutrition labels, but the “total fat” “saturated fat” and “trans fat” categories will remain.
A new category for “added sugars”. When added to food, too much sugar is linked to health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes. On the other hand, some foods (such as fruits) contain natural sugars that are not harmful when consumed in reasonable amounts. The new food labels will differentiate between the two types of sugars, so that you know how much processed sugar has been added to your meals and snacks.
You won’t necessarily see these changes on food labels immediately. Larger food manufacturers have until July of 2018 to comply with the FDA’s new standards, while smaller companies are granted an additional year. However, since the FDA considered these facts important enough to include on the Nutrition Facts labels, you would be wise to begin paying attention to your intake of added sugars, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, and healthy versus unhealthy fats.