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FDA (Finally) Modernizes Food Labels

Photo: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

When I’m at the grocery store, I am so guilty of not paying attention to food labels. Since I’ve been studying dietetics, I’ve tried to become more aware of looking at exactly what is in the food I’m buying, but it’s not always the case. When I am trying out a new food or brand, I typically turn to the label and check out calories, ignoring the rest. And to make another admission, I’m not as mindful as I should be when it comes to serving sizes.

Last month, the FDA announced major updates to Nutrition Facts labels. Find a link to the official press release from the FDA here. To break it down for you, here are some highlights:

  • Calories and servings will both become more prominent (I hope this will help me!).

  • Serving sizes will more closely reflect what people eat versus how they are labeled now. FYI it’s more than it was in 1993 when they were published.

  • An additional column is being added to indicate “per serving” as well as “per package,” which is what we are used to. Hopefully this will help consumers visualize the difference between the two.

  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed. Total, saturated and trans fats will remain.

  • Percent daily value (%DV) and grams of added sugars will now be included.

  • Daily values for sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D that reflect the changes made in the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be revised.

With these things in mind, my goal is to read the label of every food I purchase. I won’t necessarily need to do it every time I’m at the store for the same foods I buy each week, but it is such a good habit to start. The whole point of Nutrition Facts labels is to help consumers make more informed decisions when buying and eating packaged foods.

Not familiar with how to read and understand food labels? Check out this great graphic from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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