New FDA Labels Have Changed to Accommodate Real Serving Sizes (And More)

Woman looking at FDA labels

Updated Feb 4, 2020 @ 12:55 am

Have you ever looked at the nutritional label on a bag of chips, start grabbing some handfuls, and then realize that the entire bag is gone before you know it? You might start calculating and multiplying serving size calories, fat grams, and sugar grams in your head — but you know you’re not going to be pleased with the final number.

On January 1, 2020 new FDA rules went into effect to change the requirements for Nutritional Facts panels on products that are currently sold by manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Small manufacturers get an extra year to switch over to new protocol, though.

FDA labels have changed to accommodate actual portion sizes people consume in an average sitting based on the typical American diet and how much people would realistically eat at a single time. And they’ll include the total nutrition facts per bag —s o you’ll know what it costs you if you really do polish off the whole thing in one sitting.

New FBA label

What’s new?

There is now a dual-column label, to emphasize certain features, like serving size, number of servings per container, and calories per serving. The “dual column labeling,” which will have a “per container” column next to the “per serving” section on the food will reflect a size “that can reasonably be consumed in one meal or snack,” said Claudine Kavanaugh, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in a statement.

Here are a couple of other changes. You can see the updates to the old label here.

  • Servings: They look larger in size and have a bolder type of font.
  • Serving sizes: They are updated to reflect real servings people would consume.
  • Calories: They have a larger type of font to stand out more.
  • Daily Values: There are updated daily values for nutritional details
  • Added Sugars: Now there is an added sugar section to differentiate between total and added (some can be natural!).
  • Nutrients: Now there is vitamin D and potassium, rather than vitamin A and vitamin C. Iron and calcium remained on the label. And there are actual amounts of nutrients shown, in grams, rather than just percentages.
  • New Footnote: It describes what daily value means and what it reflects based on the health value of this packaged item.

Will change the way we eat?

Maybe. Now the number of calories are clearer and may help us to understand the nutrition associated with a whole bag of an item. If you approach the mid-point, you might say, “Whoa, okay let’s stop and save it for another time,” since you know what that rough estimate in what you’ve eaten looks like.

Maybe we’ll start ditching processed foods, too.

You know what doesn’t need an FDA regulated nutrition label describing fat grams, sodium, added sugar grams, calories and more? Whole foods! Think — greens and other veggies, fresh fish, meats, fruit, whole grains, and more raw, simple foods that are not processed before being packaged up. So, perhaps this can help encourage better eating habits of whole foods that don’t even need a label at all.

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