What You Need to Know About Upcoming Changes to Nutrition Labels

Nutrition Labels Changing next year… Watch the national news.

So, who knew that an occasional Snickers bar is really two sneaky bars in one wrapper?  Don’t believe it? Look at the portion size listed on the wrapper, and when you “eat the whole thing” multiply the calories by two. Yipes!  And a bigger insult, a serving size of ice cream is ½ cup!

Nutrition labels were designed to help us make good food choices, or at least better choices about certain elements in our food.  If we’re going to cheat on our diet, at the very least we should know how far off track we’ve strayed, right?

Laura Spicer, Registered Dietician for Bridgewater Home, recently held a helpful seminar to explain changes consumers will see in the way food is labeled. On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced redesigned labeling aimed at reflecting new scientific information, The goal is to make it easier for consumers to make better, more informed food choices.

Although the basic format will be the same, label changes will include increased bolded type size for “Calories,” “Servings per container,” and “Serving size,” “Package size affects what people eat and serving size requirements  are drastically different from those published in 1993.  By law, serving sizes must now be based on the amount people are actually eating, not what we should be eating,” Spice r explained. That means packages that are between one and two servings, like my Snickers or a 15-ounce can of soup, will be required to show calories and nutrients as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.

“Most of us do not consume 2000 calories a day,” says Spicer, “but that is the average that the FDA uses for general nutrition advice of Daily Values.”  *The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet” will appear as a footnote. Manufacturers will now be required to declare the actual amount of, as well as the percent Daily Value of, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Listing gram amounts for other vitamins and minerals is voluntary.

Updated information also includes nutrition facts. For instance, “Added sugars”.  Data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs and stay within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar.  “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat”  will be listed, but because the type of fat is more important than the amount, “Calories from Fat” has been removed. Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber are also being updated.

For products that are larger than one serving but could be consumed in one or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels to indicate “per serving” and “per package”/“per unit information. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting.

Article prepared by Laura Spicer, registered dietitian and Lev Norford, director of communications, Bridgewater Retirement Community. 

Laura Spicer, educator and  registered dietitian, was recently recognized and named a Sodexo Hero of Everyday Life for 2017, because of her work educating people on proper nutrition and her efforts to eliminate world hunger.

See example of  new label below.