Over the past few years, The Food and Drug Administration has made some significant changes to the Nutrition Facts Label included on every packaged food item in the United States. These changes were made as a result of years of research based on a more defined understanding of the nutritional make-up of a healthy diet. The newly established guidelines and nutritional information was required to be adjusted and printed onto all packaged food goods at the beginning of last year.
If you were wondering which changes were made to the label, look no further. The most significant change has come in the form of the total calorie count of each packaged food item. Previously, this unit had the same size font as the rest of the label. Now, this unit has the largest font of the entire label. The FDA intended to make this value the first that you see when inspecting any packaged food good to avoid foods unnaturally high in calories. Just below this bit of information, consumers will find the suggested serving size of each packaged food product. These values have been reconsidered and better adjusted to reflect how the average American actually consumes any given food product. Most people will notice this the next time they pick up a 20-ounce bottle of their favorite soda. Previously, the FDA deemed that the serving size of each of these bottles is one. Now, the suggested serving size is 2.5 servings per 20-ounce bottle.
There were some additional minor changes made to the calories section of the label as well, meant to be coupled with the major changes discussed above. Previously, each label included a section that detailed the amount of calories that came from the total fat of a product. The FDA once recognized the total calories from fat an individual was consuming as precursor to obesity but have since changed their stance. What’s more important, and has been such reflected on the label, are the different types of fat that a product includes. Trans fats and saturated fats are now included on the label as a result, amongst other nutrients (vitamin D, potassium, etc.) that were previously left off.
One change in particular stands out more than others, however. Each label will now include the percentage of calories from added sugars in any packaged food. This information gives consumers much greater insight into how the foods they prefer are altered throughout their processing and packaging stages. If these foods require a great deal of sugar in order to preserve them, you’re likely better off avoiding them. In fact, it’s suggested that individuals should avoid consuming more than 10% of their daily caloric intake through added sugars found in these packaged products.
The changes the FDA prioritized in this bunch seem to be targeted toward allowing consumers to make more health-conscious decisions on their own while shopping for themselves and their families. Previously, the information that was depicted on the Nutrition Facts Label didn’t give consumers the clearest understanding of the make-up of the food products they were selecting on their grocery stops. However, the FDA also implores people to do a bit of research themselves. It is important to become educated regarding the ingredients found in the products our families consume regularly. For more information on how the Nutrition Facts Label has changed over the past year, check out the featured infographic below.
John Hinchey is VP of Sales for Westfalia Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of logistics solutions for plants, warehouses and distribution centers.