Nutrition labels on food packaging haven’t changed much since they were first introduced more than 20 years ago and the FDA is planning to give them a makeover to better help consumers understand what we’re eating. The new labels are going to omit or emphasize things based on how nutritionists now understand them. For instance, the “calories from fat” section will be removed, since nutritionists now put more emphasis on the type of fat that you are eating instead of lumping all fats together, and the total calories per serving will be strongly emphasized. In fact, the number of servings per container will also be highlighted, so it is clearer to people exactly how many servings are in the package. Many of the suggested serving sizes will be going up as a result of the changes, as well, to reflect a more realistic portion size.
The new labels will also indicate now much sugar has been added to a product, instead of lumping both added and naturally occurring sugars together. The sugars are chemically the same, but the FDA is hoping to highlight how much more sugar people consume than they realize. The changes will also include updates to the recommended daily values of sodium, fiber and vitamin D. Products like soft drinks that don’t currently include information about Vitamin D or potassium will have to add those nutrients to their labels, as well.
The FDA hopes to get the new labels approved and begin the process of changing over food labels later this year. Since they have announced the changes, the FDA has opened a 90-day comment period for people – from experts to food manufacturers to members of the public – to provide their own input and feedback on the new labels. Once that commend period passes, some small changes could be made before the new labels are rolled out and manufacturers will have about two years to complete the changeover to the new system.