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February 14, 2018

The New and Improved Nutrition Facts Label

By: Nadeen Elhaddad MS, RDN, LDN

Have you been to the grocery store recently and noticed that some of your favorite food’s Nutrition Facts label is looking slightly different? Are you wondering if there is a purpose behind this change or is it just to make it visually different? In May 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed the new Nutrition Facts label to help you, the consumer, make more informed choices. The new label is meant to highlight various components of the label and make it easier to read. Some of the improvements include:

  1. Using a large font size for “calories,” “servings per container” and “serving size”
  2. Stating the amount of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium
  3. Including added sugars under carbohydrates
  4. Updating serving sizes to amounts that most consumers actually eat, not what they should be eating
  5. Having dual columns for larger packaged foods- making it easier to see what you are consuming if you eat one serving or the entire package

The FDA is requiring most companies to comply to these changes by 2020, though a handful of manufacturers have already started to update their labels.

These changes are coming at an appropriate time for today’s society. With chronic diseases and overweight/obesity becoming more prevalent in the United States, the FDA found it necessary for consumers to be more aware of what they were taking in. Over the past few decades, portion sizes have doubled for many products but manufacturers are still using the portion sizes created 20 years ago as the appropriate serving size. The new serving sizes will reflect how much most people eat in one sitting and provide them with the appropriate nutrition for that serving. According to the FDA, these changes take into account the most recent nutrition research and up-to-date science to provide the consumer with as much information as possible.

The next time you are in the grocery store, see if your favorite foods have switched over to the new layout. Notice if this label makes you think twice about your favorite food or if it makes you consider switching to a different product.

Understanding what you are taking in is crucial for overall health and well-being and registered dietitians can help you learn to read and interpret the new Nutrition Facts label. At Avance Care, your dietitian will also educate you on key components of the label for our individualized nutrition care. If you would like to meet with an Avance dietitian, please call (919) 237-1337.

Below is a side by side comparison of the old and new Nutrition Facts label.

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