6 Ways the Nutrition Facts Label May Change

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6 Ways the Nutrition Facts Label May Change

It’s probably rare for any of us MyFitnessPal folks to go a day without glancing at at least one Nutrition Facts Label. For the past 20 plus years, these labels have given us nutritional insight into the foods we’ve been eating–but aside from the addition of trans fats back in 2006, these nutrition labels have remained essentially unchanged since they were introduced back in 1993.

Not surprisingly, the American diet has changed a lot in those 20 years. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines have been updated not once, not twice, but four times, and there have been some pretty major advances in nutrition research, the food industry and understanding consumer behaviors around food choices. We undoubtedly look at nutrition today much differently than we did 20 years ago which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to bring the Nutrition Facts label up-to-date.

Yesterday at the White House, Michelle Obama unveiled the FDA’s proposed changes to the new label which aims to make it easier for us to identify unhealthy packaged foods and better understand how certain foods contribute to our daily nutrition goals.

Highlights include:

1. The addition of “Added Sugars”. We’ve been told for years that we consume too much added sugar but the current nutrition label offers consumers no information about just how much has been added versus how much foods contain naturally. In order to help us track just how much added sugar we’re eating, the FDA has proposed to include “Added Sugars” beneath “Sugar” on the updated nutrition label.

2. More realistic serving sizes. By law, serving sizes are to be based on what people actually eat not how much they should be consuming, but the current nutrition labels still reflect the smaller portion sizes of 20 years ago. Under the proposed update, serving sizes would aim to be more realistic to what you or I would consume in one sitting. For example, a 20-ounce soda would be 1 serving rather than 2 1/2.

3. Addition of a “Per Package” column. The proposed label change would also introduce a “dual column” to the Nutrition Facts label, indicating both “per serving” and “per package” nutrition information–for those larger packages that could be consumed in one, or multiple sittings.

4. The addition of Vitamin D and Potassium. Most Americans don’t get enough of either of these nutrients that play an important roles in bone health, blood pressure and decreasing risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D and Potassium content would join Iron and Calcium on the new label. In turn, listing Vitamin C and Vitamin A content would become voluntary.

5. “Calories from Fat” would be cut. The proposed label would still show “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat,” but “Calories from Fat” would be removed since research has largely shown the types of fat have more of an impact on our health.

6. An easier-to-read label. Calories and serving sizes would be more prominent in larger and bolder type. Additionally, the %DV (percent daily value) column would be moved to the left so those nutrients could more immediately be put into context of how they fit into your nutrition goals.

From a Dietitian’s perspective, these proposed updates have potential to make a big impact and could make the nutrition label on packaged foods easier to navigate. Not surprisingly, this more revealing food label is expected to stir things up, particularly within the food industry.  The proposed changes are subject to a 90-day comment period. Once the final updates have been agreed upon, food manufacturers will have 2 years to switch to the updated label.

For more information, head on over to the FDA’s website. Stay tuned for updates!

Which of the proposed changes are you most in favor of? Any you don’t agree with? Let us know in the comments below or share your opinions on Facebook!

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  • Yes, this would absolutely make americans slimmer 😉

  • Kayla

    I love the added sugar portion as well as the more realistic serving size. The others I’m not excited or worried about.

  • Richard K Witte

    This is an excellent move! Especially like the bigger print and more realistic serving sizes. Too many people are fooled into thinking that the can of soda they are drinking isn’t having the impact they believe.

  • shelby

    I agree with @Kayla:disqus

  • MAB

    I’m more excited about the realistic serving sizes and the dual data views to show serving AND total per package. Making the calorie font bigger does nothing if those calories are for a single serving means nothing if the package is 4 servings total and normally consumed by the package rather than by the stated serving size.

    • kimimes

      One big reason to like the package information is when us myfitnesspal users go to enter a recipe on the app. Also I would love it if the app uses the additional info from the new labels to more accurately account for our added sugars in the app and help more accurately list our potassium consumed. For those of us trying to get our daily nutritional needs met this will be a great asset. So, will the app utilize this additional info?

  • djthomp

    I’m a big fan of the larger font for the calorie and servings-per-container values.

  • Allie Roy

    I wish calories were removed altogether because they literally make people crazy. Our society has become so calorie-obsessed that we do not take nutritional value into consideration. I love the added sugar and the portion/package comparisons though! I love the idea of making health easier to understand and read.

  • misia

    I’ve never cared for the %DV numbers and doubt I ever will. They need to at least keep vitamin C on there. Would love the inclusion of zinc and magnesium, too.

  • Matt

    I like this! More realistic serving sizes is helpful.

  • RedHead0186

    I love the added sugars information! I also like the updated serving size info. People look at a can of soda and think what they’re reading is for the whole can, but it’s really not. I love that it’ll be more realistic and easier to understand exactly how much you’re eating!

  • Amber Berg

    I somewhat understand the ‘more realistic serving sizes’ but the truth is, we have a problem with obesity. I wish they would find a way to make people understand that they SHOULD be eating smaller portions, ie the recommended serving size.

    • This is a very good suggestion Amber, but you must see its very difficult to actually suggest one. Reason being, you do not know who will pick that pack up. so, what parameter do you suggest can be used to decide the recommended serving size. Obesity levels and reasons depend on a lot of factors.

    • I agree Amber. Obesity is biggest problem faced by lots of women.

  • Star

    I look at the serving size and use it and the calorie count for the serving size, not what I would like to consume.

    • Sarah Kennedy

      I do this as well. It won’t be helpful to people’s health to say “you’re really eating this much even those that’s a ridiculous amount XXXX but here’s the calories anyways”. We should be educating people on proper nutrition. I think the regular serving sizes should stay and be printed just as large as the calorie value. That way it will be known that a serving of XXXX should be 3/4 cup or 32 grams (I weigh most of my foods).

      • CGo

        Many people can’t even tell how much 3/4 of a cup of food is. These changes are to target those who do not regularly look at labels. It seems like there is a real possibility of people being more aware of how many calories are in 1 cup of something they eat regularly and finally realizing how bad it really is. Besides, we *are* educating people about proper nutrition. Don’t expect labels to educate people; they’re just a reference.

  • I would like to see a single number Nutritional value (like Hy Vee’s NuVal) Also would like to see GLYCEMIC LOAD and IF (INFLAMMATION FACTOR) RATING™ on label. Also FDA should make available certification to Fooducate , nutritiondata.self. and other databases to improve credibility.

    • Kayla

      I totally agree upon the Glycemic Load. Especially with the science that links glycemic ups-and-downs as part of the diabetes-causing problems, it seems like that information would be super, duper helpful. I’m not sure if there’s an easy way for companies to calculate that information like the rest of the nutritions, though. If there was, I’d be so, so much in favor of it. (Also, Hy-Vee’s NuVal rocks. I’ve helped so many “don’t care much about nutrition” friends switch to healthier foods purely because they can lazily just compare NuVal numbers)

  • gcarterIT

    I don’t get the part about:
    “Additionally, the %DV (percent daily value) column would be moved to the left so those nutrients could more immediately be put into context of how they fit into your nutrition goals.”
    What difference does it make on which side its on? Can someone please elaborate?
    Thanks.

    • Amberley Powell

      I think it’s probably to do with people read left to right. Easier somehow? This new version seems to be an up in simplicity.

  • Linda Harbury

    Don’t like the new format. Bolding the calories somehow suggests that calories is the most important information on the label, it isn’t. The current info has more information on it. The addition of “added sugar” seems useless, consumers already have the ingredient label to check for added sugars. I feel like you’re trying to dumb down America. And why can’t you spell out “carbohydrate”?

    • Amberley Powell

      I think the idea is the new format is to make it more accessible to everyone, not just those of who know the difference in calories and nutrition. Personally, I would love the addition of added sugars extremely helpful as for my chronic migraines I tend to avoid those. As someone who has grown up my whole life with an emotional binge eater who is very educated in dieting, I know for a fact that bigger bolder calories will help her not to overlook them, and rationalize it some other way.

      This is just my view of the subject 🙂

    • It’s a huge assumption to think the average American can look at an ingredient list and figure out what is added sugars. I’ve been reading labels since they came out with the above nutrition format 20 years ago and I can’t do it.

      There’s no harm in “dumbing down” nutritional information if it helps people be more aware of what they put in their bodies.

  • I’m looking forward to the more realistic serving sizes. Added sugars should be interesting too.

  • Nrspam

    I really like this. There have been several times that I have glanced at the calories on the label, thinking I was eating, say 200 calories, only to realize later, that they consider a package to have two servings. Like for instance, all of the Lenny and Larry’s protein cookies and muscle brownies, are all considered 2 servings to a package, and usually end up being 400 calories or more!

    • Lauren Thompson

      It’s the same with a lot of the “single serve” yogurts… Single serve would mean it’s one serving, but a lot of those containers have 2 servings in them so they can make the nutrition info look better on the label.

  • Phil Thompson

    “Added sugars” is going to rely on food manufacturers recipes / production logs and can’t be verified by testing. As our bodies aren’t party to the data they’ll continue to treat added sugars the same as any other sugars.

  • Cynthi

    I think this is long overdue and would like to see the sodium count larger and bolder for the millions of people with hypertension and heart disease and just for the general public who watch their sodium intake!

  • Linette

    I have a problem with the portion sizes. If we keep increasing the stated portion size, we will continue to have an obesity issue. What we need to do is keep the portion size correct to what is actually needed instead of what people currently eat.

  • Kllooks

    I’m VERY happy about the added potassium. I need to keep an eye on my potassium and magnesium intake. This makes things much easier for me.
    I also love the highlighted calories. Sometimes it does take a while to find this on the label.

  • George

    I like adding the Vit D & Potassium. I’m not sure why I should care how much of sugar is added.

  • Molly Zeigler

    I wouldn’t want the serving size information changed. If I should eat 1/4 cup of nuts, I only eat that much or I eat more and record it. Instead of changing the label, just get more people to pay attention and learn how and why we weight and measure our foods. It’s about portion control and I honestly didn’t realize how much I was eating until I started counting it. It would be a good experience for anyone struggling with weight to record their meals for a week. Changing the serving sizes to what people eat vs. what they should eat would not be the right way of doing it.

  • Nick Wright

    Most of these are positive changes. Especially like the addition of potassium. Not so sure about changing portion sizes.. but if it makes things more understandable for those who aren’t math nerds like myself..

  • JaneSmith100

    They are taking out Vitamin A & Vitamin C.

  • grandz

    Wonder if we will ever see info about GMO’s on these food labels. That would be a big help!

  • Ar

    I’ve thought the addition of a PCF ratio, as in a ratio of Protein:Carbohydrates:Fats would be an excellent way for anyone to gauge how this food will play a nutritious part in their meals.

  • Mary W

    I myself am just getting used to counting calories & carbs, on a very strict diet. I don’t think you should change the portion sizes, it should list what we should eat not what we want to eat or we will be fighting more problems in diabeties & obesity.

  • Gretchen Hill

    More realistic serving sizes is helpful. Thanks for sharing

  • stanleypoobrick

    The more realistic serving size would probably help people to lose weight, actually. You’re assuming that everyone measures out their food which the majority of people don’t. So the average person looks at their box of cereal and sees “30g serving = 150 calories” and just shakes the box into the bowl and thinks “yeh that’s about 30g” and is over-eating. Changing the serving size to 50g (which is more like what the average person eats) means they’ll look at the box and see “250 calories” and incorporate the correct amount into their diet.

  • plastikstars87

    I don’t understand why people are knocking the larger portion sizes. Do you really split your small bottle of Coke with 2 other people? NO! You drink the whole thing, so why shouldn’t the bottle tell you how much is in the WHOLE bottle since that is the honest serving size? I guarantee if that label read 250 calories and 150g of sugar people would be less likely to drink the bottle or even buy it. I think all these changes to the label are awesome and really hope it happens!

  • Sabbie

    The prospect of adding Vitamin D and Potassium to packaged foods worries me. They are adulterated enough.

    The nutrition facts ‘Per Package’ I look forward to.

  • kelly

    Added sugars is a good move but there is still no %DV for sugar, because the FDA doesn’t have one! But the WHO does as does the AHA. If people saw that one serving of soda had 100% of their %DV for added sugar they might get a clue!