We are all aware that our Nutrition Facts Panels are outdated, but lucky for us the long awaited modifications are here! But what does this mean for us as dietetic professionals and how can we use these changes to our advantage when talking to clients and patients? First let’s take a look at what these changes are:
The New Label
The image below is a side by side comparison of the old and new Nutrition Facts Panel, and as you can see quite a bit has changed. Here are the main points:
The “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” statements have been bolded and the font size increased
The “calories from fat” listing has been removed
Added sugars are now required to be listed
Vitamin D and potassium will now be listed in place of Vitamin A and Vitamin C
These vitamins and minerals will be listed in milligram amounts as well as %DV
The %DV will be updated for vitamin D, fiber, and sodium per the 2015 dietary guidelines
The Daily Value statement will be modified
Serving sizes will be updated
To delve a little deeper into these changes, let us first take a look at the modified percent daily value statement. For years complaints have been made regarding this statement and it comprehensibility. The new statement is as follows: “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
Another significant change is in regards to serving sizes. We all know that serving sizes have changed over the years and often those listed on the packaging are not reflective of actual consumption. These new guidelines attempt to change that; for example, a serving of ice cream will now be listed as a ⅔ cup versus the ½ cup serving and soda will be increased from an 8 oz serving to a 12 oz serving. Additional requirements are in place to account for packages that have multiple servings. If a single package holds between 1 and 2 servings then the total package will become the serving size for purposes of the Nutrient Facts Label and if the package contains more than 2 servings the label must include a “per serving” column and a “per package”/”per unit” column.
“Added sugars” is one of the new additions to the label, which is beneficial but also can be very confusing for consumers. It is important as dietetic professionals that we understand the definition so we can help our clients and patients navigate this new designation. FDA defines added sugars as “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.”
When can we expect these changes?
Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales will be required to have fulfilled these new requirements by January 1, 2020. However, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021.