The New Nutrition Facts Label: What You Need to Know

By the end of July 2018, the current nutrition facts label on packaged foods and imported food products in the US will be completely phased out. The new label has been designed to better inform consumers so that they can make conscious healthy decisions.

Here’s what’s new:

1.Serving Size
The “Serving Size” typeface is now larger and bolded, which will allow consumers to better notice this piece of nutrition information. Serving size is an important nutrition fact because it is the point of reference for every line of nutrition information following this item. The new serving sizes have also been updated to reflect what portions people actually consume today. For example, one serving of ice cream has increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup.

The “Calories” typeface is also bolded and is the largest word on the label. A calorie measures the energy level from foods. However, it is important to note that a high-calorie food does not necessarily mean that the food is also highly nutritious.

3.Total Fat
Previously listed as “Calories from Fat,” this nutrition fact is now titled “Total Fat,” followed by a breakdown of how much of each type of fat (trans fat and saturated fat). This is a result of new scientific research that suggests the knowledge of fat classification to be more essential than the amount of fat.

4.Added Sugars
Now, “Added Sugars” are required to be listed on labels as an amount in grams and as a percentage of Daily Value. This allows consumers to better identify how much sugar is naturally occurring in a food versus how much sugar was added in the processing stages of a food. Scientific data shows that it is “difficult to meet daily nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar” (FDA). The American Heart Association recommends that the daily added sugar limit be no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women.

5.Nutrient List
Vitamin D and potassium are new additions to be listed as a percentage of Daily Value, whereas vitamin A and C are now no longer mandatory. This is due to the fact that vitamin D and potassium deficiencies are growing more commonplace, while vitamin A and C deficiencies are becoming more rare.

At the end of the label, the footnote has been revised to better explain the concept of the percentage of Daily Value.

Nutrition labeling is an excellent tool at your disposal to help you make nutritiously healthy choices!

Copyright © | Bor S. Luh Food Safety Research Center  of Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2015