The FDA has finalized the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods which will be effective for ALL food manufacturers (even imported food from outside to US) by the end of July, 2018.
My favorite highlights are as follows:
- Sugar: Now required to differentiate between ‘sugar’ and ‘ADDED sugar’ on food labels. Currently, if a food label says ‘sugar’ you should take a look at the ingredients and be sure the sugar is coming for a natural source such as dried cranberries rather than “molasses”. But, by 2018, consumers will have to do less work to determine if the product contains too much added sugar, or if the sugar is naturally occurring. As a reminder, added sugar is what we want to eat less of. Women should aim for less than 25g of added sugar per day and men less than 37 grams. Natural sugar is fine for individuals without diabetes. You should aim for 2 servings of fruit per day which contains roughly 15 grams of natural sugar per serving depending on the fruit and serving size.
- Package size and serving size changes: Serving sizes will now be based on what people actually eat, rather than what the food manufacturer and government suggest we eat (due to the fact that most people aren’t eating what is suggested on the food label). For example, the FDA sites ice cream. The suggested serving size for ice cream is 1/2 cup, but most americans eat 2/3 of a cup so the serving size information (calories, fat, sodium, etc.) will reflect the actual serving size being consumed. Perhaps my favorite is soda. Most consumers are drinking 12 fl oz versus the 8 fl oz suggested on the current food label. Perhaps seeing 140 calories and 39 grams of added sugar in 2018 (more than both men and women should be consuming per day) will slow folks down in the soda isle.
- Vitamin D and Potassium: Vitamin D and Potassium are being added to the food labels as they are recognized as important micronutrients that that Americans do not consume enough of. Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health, mental health, and metabolism. Potassium plays a major positive role in heart health for health individuals. Those with kidney disease may or may not be advised to consume potassium based on their renal function.
Keep an eye out for the new Nutrition Labels and please don’t hesitate to give me a shout with any confusion or questions you may have.
Caitlin Lantier MS, RD, LD