The New Nutrition Label and Spotting Label Trickery

Episode 72 is a rundown of the new nutrition labels and tips to avoid label and package trickery. In May of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information. They say the new label will make it easier for consumers to make more informed food choices.

Most recently the FDA extended the compliance dates for the new nutrition labels from July 26, 2018, to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply.

Old versus new Nutrition Facts Label.  Source:

You’ve likely already seen some foods sporting the new nutrition facts label. The first thing you will notice is the calories are bigger and bolder. The serving size is also in bold. “Calories from Fat” has been removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Example of the new Nutrition Facts label on Van's Crackers

Another big change is that serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, a can of soup will now list as one serving and ice cream will be ⅔ cup instead of ½ cup.

Daily values for nutrients like fat, sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated too. Daily value is considered to be the amount sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals. For instance, for a 2,000 calorie diet the previous daily value for total fat was 65 grams and is now 78 grams. For carbohydrates, it went from 300 to 275 grams. Vitamin D increased from 10 mcg to 20 mcg, potassium from 3,500 to 4,700 mg and fiber slightly increased from 25 to 28 grams.

The new Nutrition Facts label lists added sugars

The next big change is the addition of “Added sugars,” to the label. So instead of seeing just “sugar” you will now see “total sugar” and under that “added sugar”. This will help you know the amount of sugar naturally in a food and the amount that has been added.

The new % DV for added sugars (50 grams) reflects the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation of no more than 10% of total daily calories from added sugar. This is a totally new recommendation from 2015. Before that there was no recommendation for added sugars.

Vitamin D and Potassium are now required to be on the label.

Then there’s that part of the label at the bottom that is 100% ignored by all humans but will change as well for the better. Since Vitamin A and Vitamin C are generally eaten in adequate amounts and not of concern for most diseases, they have taken those two off and added potassium and Vitamin D. Potassium is good for blood pressure in general. For those with kidney disease, potassium may need to be limited.

We have all succumb to label trickery at some point. The marketing on the front of a package can make Twinkies dusted with oats look like a healthy option. Here are three things to do to avoid this label trickery:

  1. Know that if it is in an aisle with cookies, cereal, crackers, or other packaged foods, it’s probably not as healthy as they are making it look.

  2. Check the nutrition facts panel and ingredients.

  3. Don’t fall for “natural” looking packaging and phrases like “baked not fried”, “all-natural” or “Light”. Claims of ‘light’ can refer to flavor, texture or color. Light doesn’t help much in determining if a food is healthy or not. "Light" olive oil for example is not lighter in fat or calories, but in color.

Listen to this episode to get the full details on the new nutrition labels.

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