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?
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 USDA 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 USDA 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?
- Are you a label reader? Why or why not?
- What do you think of the new label requirements?
- Will this substantially change the way you eat or shop?
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