How to Read Nutrition Labels & How They’re Changing

How to Read Nutrition Labels & How They’re Changing

(This post originally written for Solcana Wellness)
from CNN.com

This year, the FDA announced that all packaged foods will, within the next 3 years depending on the size of the food company, need to comply with new rules and updates for labeling nutrition facts. Here’s what to look for in the coming years:

  • Nutrition label updates:
    • the servings per container will be in a larger, bolder typeface and serving size will be updated to reflect more typical serving sizes based on how consumers eat (such as 3 servings per pint of ice cream versus 4.)
    • Calories will be in a larger typeface
    • Percentage daily values will be updated based on any new serving sizes declared
    • Under the total carbohydrate section, there will be a new row for added sugars
    • micro and milligrams of nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium will be listed, as well as their percent values.
    • New footnotes will explicitly describe percentage daily values based on a 2000 calorie daily diet.
    • Calories from fat will be removed from the header. Total fat, carbs and protein will still be listed in amounts.
    • Multi-serving packages will now have nutrition information per serving AND per container.
    • Total package calories will be written for packages that contain between one and two servings, instead of listing only per serving.
    • Dietary fiber will be added to foods that contain naturally occurring fiber or that are purported to be a healthful choice based on the fiber content.

Sooooooo what does this mean for you? Pretty good stuff, for the most part! The fact that total servings per container will be reassessed for multiple products depending on consumer dietary habits is a big deal. This means that that bag of fruit gummies in the checkout aisle will likely list one or two servings, instead of 4 (not uncommon currently). In addition, more items that have multiple servings will list the nutrition facts per servings as well as the nutrition facts for the total package. All this means is more clarity for the consumer. Nutrition labels are utilize fewer tricks under these guidelines. I’m particularly excited that the “total calories from fats” section will be taken away from the main label header. This really shows that there IS positive movement away from the fat phobia of the last 30 years. It demonizes fat quantity less and puts it on equal ground with carbohydrates and proteins now. Still, as a savvy consumer, it’s best to read the nutrition label along WITH the ingredient list. It’s in your best interest to be aware of quantity and quality of the packaged foods available to you.

Another hot ticket addition to nutrition labels (feel free to nerd out with me here) is the added sugars section that will be added under the total carbohydrates. Again, cool that the FDA is shifting focus away from fats and bit and towards sugars. One thing to remember is that a food can still be high sugar without any added sugars. However, now you can tell just how MUCH sugar is added to create the taste of the product in question. For those who have taken my Essential You group nutrition class, you understand not only the huge impact of added sugars in our health and economy, but also you understand what effect ALL sugars have in our bodies.

At the end of the day, informed choices are empowered choices. The new labels will have more information, therefore giving you more ability to make those choices and feel really, really solid about it. What’s not to love about that?

how to read nutrition labels

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