The Nutrition Facts Label Got a Makeover: Check Out What’s New!

Have you every looked at the Nutrition Facts Label on a product and scratched your head over what it listed as a serving?

For example, who listed a serving of ice cream as ONLY half a cup? Why are there more than one servings listed in a seemingly “snack sized” bag of chips, soda, or granola bar, when a person would likely open the package and eat it all at once?

Those numbers are about to change, as the FDA just finalized the new Nutrition Facts Label, giving a makeover to the 20-year-old Nutrition Facts Label design.

The Sanford Sports Nutrition Blog previously wrote about the proposed new food label when it was developed in 2014, but now the label is finalized, and most food manufacturers will have until July 2018 to switch over to the new label.

Updates to the New Label

  • The calorie count is bigger, and the serving size will be in bold.
  • The serving size is changing reflects a serving that Americans are actually eating (Again, have you actually ever measured out 1/2 a cup of ice cream? Or drank only 1/2 of a bottle of a beverage that says it contains 2 servings?)
  • Added sugars will be added to the label, which shows how much sugar is added to the food during processing (versus sugar found naturally in fruit and dairy products).
  • “Calories from Fat” will be eliminated, as more people need to be focusing on the types of fats they’re consuming, not just the amount. (Focus more on healthy fats, avoiding trans fats).
  • Different daily value percentages for sodium, fiber, and vitamin D to reflect the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines amounts.
  • Actual amounts of vitamins (versus the old label that only listed percentages) and changes to WHICH vitamins are listed. Vitamin D and Potassium are now listed (instead of Vitamin C and Vitamin A) because the majority of people aren’t getting enough of those key nutrients.

In addition, foods that contain between 1-2 servings, or could be eaten up in one sitting (such as a whole bag of microwave popcorn or a pint of ice cream…) will have a dual column label to show the nutrition for one serving and for the whole package.

The Nutrition Facts Label is important for active people and athletes, and this “Athlete’s Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label” goes through what you should be looking for on the label. The new design should make healthy eating a little easier by being able to choose between comparable products with different nutrition.

Note: As a dietitian who works with athletes, I am excited to see the “Added Sugars” on the label. Many athletes need a diet rich in carbohydrates, but sometimes they’re relying on that quick energy from sports bars and drinks to fuel their training and performance, and get stuck in the habit of eating those high-sugar foods all the time, when they should be eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and lean protein to fuel themselves outside of training. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 have emphasized how much sugar Americans are eating, including sugar in seemingly “healthy” foods like whole grain cereals or yogurts. This added part of the new label makes it easier to compare packaged products and choose more nutritious options!

What do you think of the new label?