Reading food labels is a really important part about knowing what is in our food and what we put in our bodies, but let’s face it – they can be a little hard to understand. Food labels have been around for the last 20 years, and just the other week the FDA announced proposed changes to update and make them more user-friendly.
Here are a few highlights of the proposed changes to the new food label:
- Updated serving size requirements: Food manufacturers will be required to change the serving size of a food based on the size of the package. For example, if a food is commonly eaten as the whole package (such as a bottle of soda), the label would reflect the whole bottle of soda instead of half of it, since most people consume the whole thing. The idea here is to give people a better understanding of what is in the whole portion they normally eat.
- Changing the serving size section to say “Amount per ______” which will be listed in common household measurements such as “Amount per ½ cup.”
- Calories and serving size will be in larger print to make them easier to see and read.
- “Added Sugars” will be a new required piece of information to be listed under the “Total Carbohydrate” section on the label. This will make it easier to identify if the sugars in an item are coming from a natural source like fruit or from another form of sugar (such as white sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners).
- Vitamins and minerals at the bottom of the label (such as Vitamin A, C, D, Iron, etc) will be listed in their exact amounts instead of just as a percent daily value.
Here’s what the proposed new food labels would look like:
I’m sure you are wondering when would these changes be in effect? If all of the proposed changes to food labels are accepted, food manufacturers will be required to comply within the next two years.
What does this mean for the consumer, you? Hopefully these changes will help people, including you, have a better understanding about what is in a certain food they eat, and the information will be clear enough to give an idea about how healthy (or not so healthy) that item actually is and how it does or does not fit into a healthy eating plan.