Yep, the new nutrition facts label is coming your way! Here are a few of the highlights you should know about before your next trip to the grocery store:
1. New look
Calories, serving size, and servings per container will be more prominent on the new nutrition facts label. Like I mentioned in the prequel to this post (Examining Nutrition Labels: What You Actually Need to Know), serving sizes and calories can be a good place to start when thinking about what our portion sizes should look like.
2. Serving sizes are getting an update
Speaking of serving sizes… Have you ever looked at the nutrition label on a soda bottle and thought to yourself, “That’s weird… Why does it say there are 2.5 servings in here. I’m probably gonna drink the whole thing. Now I have to do math to actually figure out the nutrition facts? Nah.”
The new nutrition facts label aims to get rid of the need for crunching numbers. Instead of listing serving sizes in a way that makes the nutrition facts look favorable, manufacturers are required by law to list serving sizes based on what their customers are really eating.
Like it or not, Americans have become accustomed to larger portion sizes, so labels are being adjusted accordingly. We tend to eat what’s in front of us, so I think it’s important to have all of the information in front of us as well.
3. More Info on Vitamins and Minerals
% Daily Value and the actual amount of Vitamin D, iron, calcium, & potassium have to be listed.
4. Added sugar
Added sugars will now be listed to help you visualize how foods contribute to your overall intake of sugar throughout the day. Remember, the recommendation is to consume no more than 10% of your daily calories in the form of added sugar.
Here’s an example; Let’s say I need about 2,000 calories per day (remember, some people need more than this, some people need less). 10% of that is 200 calories. Sugars are carbohydrates, so they contain 4 calories per gram. Divide 200 calories by 4? You get 50 grams of sugar. That’s roughly the same amount of sugar in 1 cup of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Cookie Dough ice cream. (Are you really eating 1 cup?)
This shows us that yes, you can fit sweet treats into your day, but we may need to reevaluate the way we look at portion sizes.
5. Better Info on Fat
This is a big one, folks. Total fat, trans fat, and saturated fat are all sticking around, but calories from fat are being removed from the label. Why? Nutrition scientists generally agree that the total amount of fat isn’t what we need to be focusing on. We should be focusing on the types of fat we consume. (Aka avoiding trans fats, watching sources of saturated fat, and getting more unsaturated fats.)
When does this go into effect?
July 26, 2018, but smaller manufacturers (aka those who make less than $10 million per year on food sales) will have until 2019. Some manufacturers have already adopted the new labeling requirements, so see if you can find some examples on your next trip to the store!
An update: There has been some talk in Washington about delaying the release of the nutrition label to 2021. Curious? The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a breakdown of what’s going on here. Stay tuned…
Now that you’ve mastered nutrition label reading, are you wondering about all of the stuff on the front of the package? Stay tuned for a post all about label claims coming soon!