When it comes to reading the nutrition labels on our food, we’re all about the details. On May 20, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration finalized the new Nutrition Facts label, reflecting many significant changes for the first time since its inception in 1993. The new label features a long-awaited redesign to reflect new scientific findings, and it makes it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. Most food manufacturers, including foreign manufacturers, will have until July 26, 2018; to comply with the changes; smaller food manufacturers will have one more year.
So what are the need-to-know highlights? We’re here to guide you through them.
A Refreshed, Easier-to-Read Label
“Calories,” “Serving size” and “Servings per container” will be more visible, in larger and bolder type. Additionally, manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent daily values of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. Any other vitamins and minerals are voluntary.
Updated Information Based on the Latest Nutrition Science
- Addition of “Added Sugars”: It’s no secret that too much sugar is bad for us. (See: Science Says Sugar is Bad for Weight Loss and The Surprising Benefits of Cutting Back on Sugar) In a long overdue update, the new label lets consumers know how much sugar has been added to their packaged foods in addition to how much sugar these foods contain naturally. (By the way, if you’re looking to cut back on added sugar, check out these great tips to get started.)
- Removal of “Calories from Fat”: “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat” and “Trans Fat” will remain on the label, but “Calories from Fat” will be cut, as research has largely shown that the types of fat have more impact than the amount.
- Addition of Vitamin D and Potassium: Vitamin D and potassium play important roles in bone health, blood pressure and decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases. Unfortunately, many of us fall short on these nutrients. By adding these to the new nutrition label, public health advocates hope intakes will begin to rise. As for other micronutrients, iron and calcium will remain on the label, while Vitamins A and C will become voluntary because deficiencies of those nutrients are now rare.
- Updated Daily Values (%DV): Daily values for nutrients like fat, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific research from the Health and Medicine Division and other reports such as the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
Even though MyFitnessPal calculates macronutrient goals based on your overall calorie needs, the new daily values show a decrease in carbohydrates and an increase in fiber and fats. This reflects newer recommendations to decrease consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugar and the importance of healthy fats in the diet.
|Old DV||New DV|
|Nutrients||Adults and Children ≥ 4 years||Adults and Children ≥ 4 years|
|Total Carbohydrate (g)||300||275|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||25||28|
|Added Sugar (g)||N/A||50|
|Vitamin D (mcg)*||400 IU (10 mcg)||20|
Sources: Adapted from “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)” and the FDA’s final Rule on “Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels,” pages 903–906
*The new label requires the actual amount of vitamins and minerals to be listed in micrograms or milligrams. For vitamin D, it must be listed in micrograms and may be listed voluntarily in IU.
Updated Serving Sizes and Labeling
- More realistic serving sizes: On the new label, serving sizes will increase to reflect today’s larger portion sizes –– because, by law, serving sizes must be based on what people are actually consuming, not what they should be consuming. For example, the reference amount for one serving of ice cream will increase from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup and, for soda, the reference amount for one serving will increase from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
- Addition of a “Per Package” column: For certain products that contain more than one serving but could be consumed in one sitting, manufacturers will be required to provide a dual-column label — one for “per serving” and another for “per package” or “per unit.” This will allow consumers to see how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package or unit in one sitting.
What Does This Mean for MyFitnessPal?
The MyFitnessPal team will be updating the app to accommodate these changes in an upcoming release.
For more details on the label updates, check out the FDA’s website.