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Have you heard? The Nutrition Facts label is getting a facelift.

April 23, 2014

I’ve seen countless news articles and blog posts encouraging people to read the Nutrition Facts label to help make better food choices, and many even explain what to look for. But if you’re like me, it can still be confusing and overwhelming at times. I mean, the food labels were created over 20 years ago and haven’t been updated since, other than to add trans fats to the labels.

The good news is that there are some big changes on the horizon! The FDA recently proposed bringing the Nutrition Facts label up-to-date with an improved design and updated content. Not only will this positively affect the consumer’s experience when making food choices, but it will also help address the current health concerns we face in today’s society: obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

What are the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label?

The amount of calories will appear much larger on the new labels. Also, calories from fat will no longer be listed, since the type of fat is more important than the total amount of fat.

One of the most exciting things about the new labels is that “Added Sugars” will be included on the label. Why? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats. But did you know that on average, Americans eat 16 percent of their daily calories in sugars added during the food production process? My guess is that many people don’t pay attention to the amount of natural and added sugars in their food because it isn’t clearly labeled for them.

Servings are getting an overhaul, too. The number of servings per package will be more prominent, and “amount per serving” will be listed with the actual serving size.

Get out of the way vitamin C and vitamin A, because vitamin D and potassium are moving in! Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, especially among women and the elderly. Likewise, potassium helps to lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Because many people are deficient in both of these nutrients, they will be required to have a presence on the new labels. On the flipside, most people get more than enough vitamin A and C in their diet, and are really just taking up space on the current labels.

The %DV (Daily Value) would be shifted to the left of the label and updated for various nutrients, to help consumers put nutrient information in context more efficiently to be able to make better food choices.

Perhaps one of the most radical changes proposed is the update to serving size requirements. The FDA suggests adjusting serving sizes to reflect the reality of what people actually eat. It is actually a law that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat, not on what they “should” be eating!

According to the FDA, the primary goal of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label “is not to tell people what they should be eating, but to expand and highlight the information they most need when making food choices.” I say anything that makes the trip to the grocery store easier and allows for better food choices for families, is a goal worthy of action.

Learn more about the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label here.

The FDA wants to hear from you. Comment on the proposed changes by clicking the “comment now” button here.

Let’s discuss! What do you think of the proposed changes?