News on Nutrition Labels

 

Nutrition labels will be rolling out over the next few years. Some things they got right, others, like fat, still leave us scratching our heads. The federal guidelines have always been about 20 years behind nutrition science but we thought with the Internet, that might have sped up. Anyway, here’s the skivvy on how and why the labels are changing. The most helpful change in my mind is the addition of “added sugar” because it helps you stay under 20g per day. Also very helpful will be two new approaches to serving sizes.

 

(1) Serving sizes will be based on what people typically eat, not decided by the manufacturer.

(2) Calories will be in larger type.

(3) “Added sugars” will be indicated, which will be a big help if you are trying to stay below 20g per day as is recommended. This is great for products like ZEGO where half of the “sugars” in the product are from whole fruit, not added sweetener.

(4) Per serving v. per package, your pint of ice cream because will now tell you the price of eating the whole container.

(5) Packages containing between one and two servings will be listed as one if that is how it’s consumed – e.g., 20 ounce sodas will now be one serving.

(6) Sodium, vitamin D and fiber percentages of daily value will be based on the new federal recommendations.

(7) Vitamins A and C will disappear from labels because Americans no longer show deficiencies in these.

(8) Vitamin D and potassium are the new deficiencies of concern in America and their values will now be shown grams in addition to percentages.

(9) Fat gets one step closer to being right – “calories from fat” goes away and “total fat,” “saturated fat” and “transfat” will stay. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait decades for that to have the omega 3/6/9 levels as well as a temperature to which it was heated. That’s what really matters for health.

(10) Percent Daily Value description changes to be easier to read.

Of course, there are always unintended consequences to any change like this. I predict we’ll see more artificial sweeteners and fruit juice as sweeteners to get around the added sugar issue, not exactly progress. But, I do think the labels will help consumers both by informing them better about sugars, serving sizes and calories and with the added bonus that companies will start to reformulate to decrease highlighted nutrients like added sugar and sodium. Reformulating takes a lot of money and time, though, so expect a rising tide, not a tsunami.

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