The first FDA nutrition label make over in over 20 years

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designed a new nutrition label that aims to be more easily readable and understandable for the general public.

February 27, 2014 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed several changes to the nutrition label for the first time since it was introduced in 1993.

Of the changes made to the nutrition label, the most prominent is the new design. Calorie counts are bigger and bolder to give them greater emphasis. The serving sizes will be updated, as well as the Percent Daily Values for a variety of different nutrients. According to the FDA website, serving sizes are not the same as they were when the nutrition label was first created, 20 years ago. On the new label the portion size is easier to identify and better reflects a typical serving consumed today. Percent Daily Value information will also appear on the left hand side in hopes that consumers will apply nutrition into their overall diet. Highlighting these parts of the label is the goal of the FDA to address current public health concerns such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Looking closer, some items have been added and removed to the label. One of the most controversial additions is the new line for added sugars. Food companies will now be required to list what type of sugar is in their food product, and whether it’s natural or has been added during food production. Two more additions include potassium and vitamin D. Vitamins A and C will now be voluntary. Potassium plays an important role in heart health, blood pressure and hypertension, and vitamin D is important for bone health. These additions are beneficial for people who fail to receive enough of the nutrients or are monitoring nutrients for specific diseases, such as diabetes. 

“Calories from Fat” is no longer mandatory on the nutrition label. Recent research and nutrition experts have found that the type of fat consumed seems to be more important than the amount of calories coming from fat. Total fat, saturated fat and trans fat are still required. 

Another change includes certain packages that are larger and could be consumed in one or multiple sittings. For these items, the manufacturers would be required to provide “dual column” labels that indicate both per serving and per package calorie and nutrient information.

The FDA is seeking public comments on the proposal until May 28, 2014. For more information or to have your voice heard visit the FDA website. Michigan State University Extension encourages consumers to become familiar with food labels as part of a healthy meal plan and overall lifestyle.