Explaining FDA's New Nutrition Facts Label

This is the biggest nutrition overhaul in decades

In its most drastic reform in decades, the Food and Drug Administration recently came out with a new Nutrition Facts label for all packaged foods.

Some of the information, such as added sugars, is going to be new; and key parts, such as serving size, will be displayed differently.

The goal is to reflect new scientific information, according to the FDA, including the link between food and chronic conditions such as obesity and heart disease, two major public health concerns in the U.S. The ultimate idea is for people to more easily make informed choices about what they consume.

Manufacturers will have to be using the new label by July 26, 2016.


Serving size

Some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease because by law, the serving sizes must be based on the amounts of food and drink that people typically consume, not on how much they should consume.

Many nutritionists have warned that people often consume more than the amount on the label. “What's considered a single serving has changed in the decades since the original nutrition label was created. So now serving sizes will be more realistic to reflect how much people typically eat at one time,” the FDA says.

Also, the serving size print is larger so people don’t accidentally skip it.

Added sugars

Consumers will now know how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers, and what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents.

“Includes X g Added Sugars” is added directly beneath the listing for “Total Sugars.”

Expert groups such recommend decreasing intake of added sugars to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance, according to the American Heart Association. Refined sugar has been referred to as a toxic habit and one of the worst things you can do to your body.

A 20-ounce bottle of Coke, for example, contains 65 grams of added sugar, which is more than 120 percent of your daily recommended maximum.

Change of nutrients required

You will be seeing information about Vitamin D and potassium. Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of Vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required, because Vitamins A and C deficiencies in the general population are now rare, according to the FDA. Companies can add the information on a voluntary basis.

Daily values

Daily values of sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer evidence used in developing the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Actual numbers

Manufacturers are now required to declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value, of the mandatory vitamins and minerals. The new label will show the actual amount and percent daily value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium.

More readings: 

Why Is Iron Important and How to Get More in Your Diet

This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Ton of Sugar

Top 17 Signs There’s Something Wrong With Your Thyroid