Health

After 20 Years, a Food Label Makeover

May 20, 2016   ·   0 Comments

May 20, 2016 — The nutrition facts panel on the back of food packages — that box many of us check to see how many calories and how much fat, protein, and fiber are in the foods we eat — is getting a new look.

Among the key changes:

  • A new line will tell people how much sugar has been added to a processed food.
  • Serving sizes will be updated to more closely reflect the amount of a food people actually eat. A serving of ice cream, for example, will be increased to two-thirds of a cup instead of one-half cup. A serving of soda will go from 8 to 12 ounces.
  • Calories will be larger and bolder.
  • Daily values will be updated to reflect the most recent science. The daily value for fiber has been increased from 25 grams to 28 grams, for example.
  • New vitamins and minerals will get some space. Potassium and vitamin D, two nutrients that Americans tend not to get enough of, will now be featured on food labels.

new food label

First lady Michelle Obama and the FDA announced the new changes Friday. They’re the first updates to nutrition labels in 2 decades. Food manufacturers will have between 2 and 3 years, depending on their size, to comply.

“This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices,” Obama said in a statement.

Nutrition advocates cheered the new rule, which had faced fierce opposition from the food industry.

“I think it’s a huge step forward,” says Laura MacCleery, director of regulatory affairs for the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.

“The line for added sugars is just a revelation. We’ll be able to see how much sugar in yogurt is naturally there from milk sugar and how much is added to sweeten it,” she says.

Right now, the average American eats about 115 grams (23 teaspoons) of added sugar a day. The new daily value for added sugar will be 50 grams — less than half that amount.

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