Label This! Understanding the USDA 2017 Nutrition Label Updates

Understanding USDA 2017 Nutrition Label Updates

Just when you thought you had a grasp on understanding the basic nutrition label, the USDA changes things.  Don’t worry, though.  The differences make it easier to read and understand the label. The new panel takes American eating habits and new dietary research into account, too. A lot changed in the 10+ years since we got our 2006 label. It’s time to update it to reflect new research.  It retains its recognizable design but presents information in an easier-to-understand format and includes new details.

So, What changes are coming to the 2017 Nutrition Label?

Side by Side updated 2017 nutrition label and 2006 nutrition label
Side by Side updated 2017 nutrition label and 2006 label
  1. The “Servings per Container” and “Serving Size” resized
    The new “Calories” and “Serving Size” information appears in much larger, bolder font.  Also, based on research that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat food contains, “Calories from fat” no longer appears on the label.
  2. Sugars
    The 2006 USDA nutrition label always indicated how much sugar a food item contained.  The new 2017 food label still includes sugar amount but also distinguishes between added sugars.  Further, it lists not only the amount in grams but also the daily percent. Research indicates that limiting added sugars to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake makes reaching and maintaining weight goals easier.
  3. Nutrient Changes
    The 2017 nutrition label requires nutrients to include the percentage and the actual amount a food product contains.  While iron and calcium still make an appearance, the new label drops mandatory vitamins C and A listing.  However, because so many Americans are deficient, it adds Potassium and Vitamin D as mandatory.
  4. Footnote Changes
    The USDA re-worded the footnote to make it easier to understand.

Other 2017 USDA Nutrition Label Changes

The USDA announced other changes, as well, but they aren’t visible on the new labels.  For example, while sodium and fiber are still listed, the recommended daily allowance of these nutrients changed based on recent research.  The new label reflects these changes.

Also, the current label bases serving sizes on how much Americans used to eat.  Based on new data, the label now indicates how much of a product we currently consume.  For example, if you buy a 20 oz soda, how much do you drink? Do you neatly measure out an 8 oz serving and put the remaining cup and half away for a later date?  Probably not.  If you are like most people, you consume the whole soda in one sitting.  As such, the 2017 nutrition label requires that the label now lists that bottle as a single serving (instead of 2.5 servings) and list the calorie content for the whole shebang.

For larger containers that CAN be consumed in one sitting, the USDA now requires dual column labeling.  So the next time you Netflix and cry over a pint of rocky road, you can take comfort in knowing that, if you eat the whole thing, it’s even easier to log those calories in MyFitnessPal.

When will you see these new changes?

The FDA finalized the new label in May 2016.  They set the original compliance date in July 2018 for businesses with more $10 million in food sales with an additional year for all others.  However, the FDS has since revisited this ruling and decided to extend the compliance deadline to allow food manufacturer’s more time.  But they haven’t announced a new deadline as of yet.

To learn more – or see more technical detail, read Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule.

Fat to Chew on?

  1. Are you a label reader? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think of the new label requirements?
  3. Will this substantially change the way you eat or shop?
Understanding USDA 2017 Nutrition Label Changes
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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.


  • Kandice

    April 5, 2019 - 8:12 am

    I realize this is an older article, but you are confusing USDA and FDA label regulations. The link to “Final Rule” is to the FDA 21 CFR regulation, not USDA FSIS regulation.

    • Alicia Taylor

      April 5, 2019 - 2:23 pm

      Oops! Thanks for the feedback. I guess my fingers got carried away. I have corrected it in the article.

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  • lmochoa488

    July 19, 2017 - 2:38 am

    Thanks for sharing these changes with me. I don’t think I would have not noticed it.

  • MaJoy Eticabla

    July 16, 2017 - 11:07 pm

    The nutrition labels are useful especially to people who always watch their diet. Whenever I shop I would always look at those labels and compare one product with another to make sure I get the best nutrition for the family.

  • Mhaan (@momyrockinstyle)

    July 16, 2017 - 10:40 pm

    As a mom, I always check the label and expiration date before I purchase something especially for food. It is really important to serve healthy and fresh for our family. Thanks for sharing dear.

  • Elizabeth O

    July 16, 2017 - 4:36 pm

    I buy more fresh and organic foods and few packaged items. So reading labels is not an every day affair for me. That said, I think it’s a good thing that it is being updated. It shows someone is paying attention.

  • Wayne

    July 15, 2017 - 8:59 pm

    The new label requirements are good. I like it that companies can no longer adjust the serving size to reach their target numbers on packages that are likely to be consumed in one sitting.

    I’m curious to see when the new labels start to show up. I guess companies needed more time because some processed “food” has a shelf life of several years.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 16, 2017 - 12:10 pm

      I had not even thought of that as the reason for the delay, but it makes perfect sense

  • Cynthia Nicoletti

    July 15, 2017 - 8:44 pm

    Great inforamtion you shared. I honestly do not read the labels all the time. I have a better understanding thanks !!

  • Hey Sharonoox

    July 15, 2017 - 1:47 pm

    This is good info! I don’t usually read labels since it could be so confusing but glad to learn that they’re updating the label to a much straight forward read. My concern is always calories and sugar!

  • Nicole Caudle

    July 15, 2017 - 6:30 am

    Thank you for the update! I had no idea anything was changed .

  • Tiffany Yong

    July 15, 2017 - 4:02 am

    I’m a 75% non-label reader because I hardly go for junk or can food. And even if I do, I take them sparingly. Hence I usually only glance at them when I’m comparing similar products with different prices.

  • Rosey

    July 14, 2017 - 11:48 pm

    I’m glad they’ve made it easier to read and understand labels. Thanks for the heads up on the changes

  • Keeping Up With Candy

    July 14, 2017 - 9:01 am

    I really need to take more care and read labels. I mostly look for fat, sodium, and sugar. I know there’s so much more to look out for.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 14, 2017 - 1:37 pm

      Well, on the nutrition label, calories, sodium, and sugars are the ones I look for, too – but I also watch protein, as well. I’m primarily vegetarian (fish 2x’s a week), so I try to make sure I get enough.

  • Andrea

    July 13, 2017 - 9:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information! I am definitely a label reader, and I wasn’t aware the labels were changing.

  • Lisa Favre

    July 13, 2017 - 9:20 pm

    I didn’t even realize there would be changes to the nutritional label! Definitely something I’ll be reviewing here and there just so that I know I am up-to-date.

  • RonRon

    July 13, 2017 - 8:06 pm

    This is quite helpful. I admit I don’t really pay that much attention at food labels since I don’t understand a bit of it. But now, I think I will.

  • Elisha Fernandez

    July 13, 2017 - 8:04 pm

    My mom got to go the White house to see the unveiling presentation about the changes they are making on the labels. It’s awesome!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 14, 2017 - 1:38 pm

      Wow! What an honor! Did you write a blog post about it? I’d love to read it.

  • Stephanie Jeannot

    July 13, 2017 - 7:05 pm

    I used to live by reading these labels. At one point in my life, it helped me to lose a whole lot of weight and that was a great thing.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 14, 2017 - 1:39 pm

      I have always read the labels. It’s interesting to see all the changes they’ve gone through.

  • Andrea

    July 13, 2017 - 5:50 pm

    i am always reading all the labels on everything I read it is so important and if i can’t recognize the ingredient it doesn’t go in the shopping cart.

  • Jessica Taylor

    July 13, 2017 - 5:42 pm

    I have to admit that i don’t read nutrition labels as much as I should. I should probably start

  • robin rue

    July 13, 2017 - 4:12 pm

    I try to read labels for everything I buy, but some of them are definitely not easy to read.

  • The Mad Mommy

    July 13, 2017 - 1:49 pm

    This is so great! Labels can be confusing and misleading sometimes.

  • Kara

    July 13, 2017 - 11:58 am

    Thank you for this post! I always get really overwhelmed when trying to read labels that aren’t clear or simple (so many products these days have so many crazy things in them!)

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 13, 2017 - 1:07 pm

      Yes – The nutrition label doesn’t really touch the ingredient label, though. I wish there were some clarifications on that myself.

  • Gillie

    July 13, 2017 - 10:41 am

    In Australia they put the Glycemic Index value of the food item on the labels. I would like to see that kind of information.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 13, 2017 - 1:08 pm

      Oh! I would, too! My husband is a diabetic and this would be a valueable addition. In the meantime, I’ll settle for finally having a separation between “Added Sugars” and naturally occurring ones.

  • Courtney Andrews

    July 13, 2017 - 9:49 am

    Thanks for sharing this info! Nutrition labels can be hard enough to interpret, especially when they change constantly!

  • Natasha Fedderman

    July 13, 2017 - 8:09 am

    Sad to say I am not into label reading. But I do believe its importance!!

  • Acadiana'sThriftyMom (@acadianathrifty)

    July 13, 2017 - 6:50 am

    Thanks for breaking it down for us. I love that the new label distinguishes between sugar and “added sugar”.

  • Lynzy & Co

    July 13, 2017 - 1:23 am

    This is such a good post. I love the fact that the nutrition labels are going to be more detailed. I think they need to be easier and more clarifying to all so they understand what the ingredients mean and stuff. Such a great update for nutrition labels.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 13, 2017 - 1:09 pm

      Unfortunately, this doesn’t change anything in the ingredient label – just some basics on the nutrition label. But it would be great to see an overhaul on that, as well.

  • chewoutloud

    July 13, 2017 - 1:13 am

    Changes towards healthier is always good, and I wish they could make good changes happen a bit faster 🙂 Looking forward to seeing some good labeling, though.

  • Cathy Mini

    July 13, 2017 - 12:21 am

    I honestly had no idea they were updating it this year! It’s always good to stay in the know-how about these sorts of things! We’ve been trying to be better about reading the labels but sometimes we forget >_<

  • Heather

    July 13, 2017 - 12:17 am

    Since most of us count calories as a starting point when reading the labels, I like that the size is so much bigger. More information is always a good thing.

  • parentingpatch

    July 12, 2017 - 10:18 pm

    Nutritional labels are sometimes so ridiculous to read and figure out. I want to know things in more detail like added sugar versus naturally-occurring sugar.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 13, 2017 - 1:10 pm

      Me too – so I am glad to see that addition.

  • Cassie

    July 12, 2017 - 9:13 pm

    This is such a good post for people who struggle to read nutritional labels. For me – I get frustrated at how many ingredients are by different names!! As such, I try to only buy things with 5 ingredients or less listed and ones that I actually no what it is!

  • Sonyo Estavillo

    July 12, 2017 - 4:57 pm

    So, it looks like the nutrition labels are going to be more detailed? It seems that way to me. I love reading labels, that’s how I make my decision when purchasing food. So, the more detailed and specific the better.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 12, 2017 - 5:40 pm

      Yes! Not only will they be slightly more detailed, such as including the amount of sugar from added sugars, but they are also updated to reflect new dietary research. All in all, I think this is a good thing. I am with you I am a huge label reader

  • Jeanette

    July 12, 2017 - 2:22 pm

    I have always tried read labels but a lot of times I really have no idea what I’m looking at. I’m glad that they made the font bigger on serving sizes and how many calories. I think that will help people be a lot more observant about food.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 12, 2017 - 5:40 pm

      I am definitely glad that they are making the amount per serving and calorie sizes much Bolder and make it easier to find on the label. Sometimes when I’m in a grocery store, I don’t always have my glasses, and this will make it easier for me to look at them label easier

  • AlaynaFrankenberry

    July 12, 2017 - 1:59 pm

    These look like good changes to me! I wish they would make it illegal to break up things into insane amount of servings though. One time I saw a microwave dinner that claimed it had two servings. It was clearly doing that just to make the calorie count seem healthier!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 12, 2017 - 2:01 pm

      Like I said in the post – that is one of the things they are changing. They are making sizes more realistic. I’m with you, these changes are for the better.

  • Sarah Bailey

    July 12, 2017 - 1:47 pm

    It looks like the new labels will make it a little easier to work out what is what, I am glad we are able to see what is inside the food we buy these days.

  • prettybrownnomad

    July 11, 2017 - 8:29 pm

    Gotta get back in the habit of reading. They’ve been in foreign languages for months for me since I”ve been traveling. Lol

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 12, 2017 - 1:57 pm

      Wow! I bet labels overseas are completely different – not just the language, but the nutrition information provided.

  • GiGi Eats Celebrities

    July 11, 2017 - 8:08 pm

    Ha! I just made a YouTube video about deciphering these nutrition labels with my husband!

  • SavvyMomNYC - Ker (@SavvyMomNYC)

    July 11, 2017 - 8:38 am

    I think the bolder large font is important. Sometimes, the serving size could be deceiving and it will be easier to read now that it is larger. Glad to see they are making good changes.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 11, 2017 - 10:56 am

      I am, too. So far, the changes seem to be for the better.

  • reesann723

    July 11, 2017 - 8:22 am

    I had no idea the labels were changing. This is great information, thank you for taking the time to spell this out. I Often find labels are meant to be so confusing!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 11, 2017 - 10:57 am

      The USDA portion is pretty easy to understand. However, some of the other things can be quite confusing. It would be nice to see some uniformity.

  • Kristin Cheuvront

    July 10, 2017 - 10:52 pm

    These sound like positive changes to help everyone live a healthier life. The bolder type will really help!

  • irishred13

    July 10, 2017 - 6:45 pm

    I wish they would require other things labeled- like GMOs. But I like that the calories are bigger so people know what they are getting into.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 11, 2017 - 10:58 am

      I agree. However, the USDA doesn’t consider GMO’s to be significantly different than non-GMO. Thankfully, some brands voluntarily label their products and get them certified non-GMO.

  • loisaltermark

    July 10, 2017 - 6:14 pm

    This is great information. I try to look at nutrition labels but they don’t always seem to make sense. I’m glad they’re breaking up the sugars now – that’s very helpful.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 11, 2017 - 11:00 am

      Me too! That’s significant. Some people believe all sugar is created equal, but the sugars in an apple (or non-sweetened applesauce) are different than the sugars in corn syrup.

  • brandidcrawfordgmailcom

    July 10, 2017 - 4:47 pm

    I love that they are giving “added sugars” their own line. That is so important. This is a great post. I’m looking forward to the new changes.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 11, 2017 - 11:00 am

      Me, too. This is the change I am really hoping to see – although being able to track Vitamin D better will be a bonus, as well.

  • Angela B

    July 10, 2017 - 1:42 pm

    We try to read the labels for almost everything we buy…however some are like a forien language. I hope the new labels will be helpful in clearing up some of the note frustrating aspects of them. Thanks for sharing the details in the update Alicia

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 10, 2017 - 4:47 pm

      I don’t find the nutrition labels confusing – it’s the ingredient labels that need some clarifying. I do like the new layout, though. My eyes aren’t what they used to be and reading the calorie information easily will really make a difference. I’m also happy that the new labels will reflect more recent nutrition research.

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