Here's What You Need To Know About the New Nutrition Labels

Whether you’re an avid nutrition label checker or prefer to ignore them, they’re something you can find on the back of every food product in stores. The nutrition label is meant to provide you with important information about what’s in the food you’re eating. And these labels can encourage you to make healthy choices.

In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new changes would be coming to nutritional labels. Those changes are finally being implemented and you’ll start noticing them on all products. 

Here’s some background on the new labels and what the changes mean for you.

Why Are Nutrition Labels Changing?

The nutritional label was due for a major revamp — it hasn’t been updated since 1994. It’s safe to say a lot has changed since then, and the FDA felt it was time our food labels changed with the times. 

Though most companies are required to switch to the new labels, it will take some time for all companies to take part in the changes. Companies with $10 million or more in annual sales are already required to have started the changes by January 2020. Other companies will implement updated nutrition labels by July of 2020.

What’s Different About The New Nutrition Labels?

The revised labels are still showing the same nutrition values as the old ones, but in different ways. The focus is aimed at how Americans are eating today, rather than how they were eating in the 90s. 

These are the five changes you’ll notice on food products sold in the U.S.

1. Calories

The easiest nutrition information to read on the new labels are the calories. They’ll be in larger and darker colors with a slight change in focus in what it’s counting. Instead of measuring how many calories come from fat as a whole, the label will now separate calories coming from unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.

This new change will make it easier for you to track the type of fats you’re eating. It will show a difference in these two fats; not all of them are necessarily bad. You can find a ton of information online on what the healthy amount of per day is for your body type.

2. Added Sugars

Not only will calories be showing how much comes from fat, but they’ll also show you a percentage of calories that come from added sugar. It can be really easy to go over your recommended daily limit of sugar. Guidelines suggest that less than 10 percent of your daily calories should be from sugary foods like desserts and soda, and the revised label aims to help consumers be more mindful of their intake.

Seeing the percentage of calories from sugar in food products will help you understand how much sugar is in everything you eat. It will be easier to track daily consumption and hopefully encourage consumers to make healthier choices in the process.

3. Serving Sizes

This may come as a surprise to some people, but the serving sizes on nutrition labels aren’t actually the recommended amount you should be eating according to health guidelines. Instead, labels are describing what people are most likely to consume through the serving size. 

On the new labels, the serving size will be increased to give consumers a more realistic idea of what they’re eating. Americans are eating more than they did in the 90s, so the health guidelines are adjusting accordingly.

4. Double Columns

There will now be two columns on some food and drink products. One column will detail the nutritional value for one serving, and the other will outline the nutritional value of the entire package. This is to help people know what they are consuming if they choose to eat an entire package themselves.

5. Slight Change In Vitamins

There will also be a difference in the vitamins shown on the label. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required, but Vitamin D and potassium values are now mandatory. The FDA says these are two nutrients people are generally not getting enough of. 

By displaying the Vitamin D and potassium levels, people can search for foods that contain higher percentages of these nutrients. They can increase the frequency of bowel movements, lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels and reduce caloric intake.

Nutrition Labels Can Help You Live A Healthy Lifestyle

It’s relatively easy to live a healthy lifestyle when you read nutrition labels and exercise regularly. While it can be easy to ignore the nutrition info on food labels, there are a lot of perks to reading what they have to say.

You’ll be more inclined to cut back on saturated fat, added sugar and salt products after seeing how much can be used in one serving. You’ll want to find alternatives that offer the same taste at a much lesser health concerning cost. Understanding how these numbers impact your health can make you more motivated to limit what you put into your body. 

Reading the nutrition labels can push you to adjust your eating habits to maintain or begin a healthy lifestyle. They aren’t very hard to understand, and you can find information online about how much of each nutritional component you should be eating each day.

woman reading nutrition label at grocery store Stokkete / Shutterstock