The new Nutrition Facts labels remain woefully short of credible guidelines for good wellbeing, despite the fact that clinical science has made a wealth of advances since the current label was introduced 20 years ago. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration reported earlier this year that the nutrient information mark for processed foods will be overhauled. Though it isn’t flawless, the latest version ( released in 2017) will help customers make healthier food decisions thanks to new improvements including serving size changes and the inclusion of “added sugars.”
Supplement labels are also affected by the shifts. Those that take supplemental vitamin D or vitamin E, for example, are accustomed to taking a specific dosage in International Units (IUs). However, all of these nutrients are also represented in micrograms and milligrams on the new labels, indicating that they are switching to the metric scale of mass.
Continue reading to get a complete breakdown of the updates and what you need to do.
Why Change the Nutrient Facts Label?
Nutritional preferences have changed in recent decades, and research has discovered further associations between diet and chronic disease. Furthermore, as mentioned on the label, “serving sizes” rarely represent the actual amount of food eaten, so the current label is focused on more practical eating patterns.
The New Nutrition Facts Label: An Overview
Font size, layout, and points of focus have all been changed in the updated Nutrition Facts Label. The larger font is the first thing you’ll note, making it easier to read. Calories have been shifted to the top of the page in a slightly bigger font, and the phrase “calories from fat” has been eliminated.
Daily Value percentage
While the location and format of the Nutrient percent Daily Value (DV) remained unchanged, the RDIs for some nutrients were tweaked, with some going up and some going down. Fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin D, arsenic, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and total fat all had higher comparison intakes.
This, of course, has an impact on percent DV. The most recent RDIs for each nutrient are listed below, with the nutrients of concern highlighted. If necessary, the National Institutes of Health has even larger graphs.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the RDI and DV are based on a nutrient minimum and only represent the amount of a nutrient required to prevent a life-threatening disease. They are NOT the absolute limit. Far larger numbers, in many ways, lead to substantial health gains and prevention measures.
Calcium and iron are also needed. Since potassium and vitamin D are often deficient in the American diet, they have been made obligatory. Since vitamin A and C deficiency is no longer common, they have been changed from obligatory to optional. Choline has been used as a new optional nutrient. Fluoride is also optional, so if a commodity claims to include it, it becomes obligatory.
Sugar is one of the most significant improvements. On the current label, the sugar listing on the old label is split into total sugar and additional sugar. This shift is the result of studies showing that a high intake of added sugar is linked to a rise in calorie intake as well as a reduction in balanced food intake. It’s all focused on research that links a low-sugar diet to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Honey, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, palm sugar, lactose, and condensed fruit juice are examples of added sugars used in the production process.
According to health oversight authorities, it’s impossible to meet FDA nutritional criteria without exceeding the recommended maximum calorie intake if a daily diet includes more than 10% added sugar.
Serving & Packaging Size
Serving sizes are adjusted to represent what people currently consume rather than what they can consume. This move would provide consumers with a more clear picture of the caloric and nutrient value of the foods they consume.
Packages of food or drinks that contain between one and two portions must be labeled as one serving. Since most people eat those items in one sitting, this rule was added. Manufacturers must have two-column labeling on goods of two or three servings, one with per-serving information and the other with per-package information.
On the label, total fat, trans fat, and saturated fat are all there. Since studies indicate that the kind of fat influences health rather than the number, the calories from fat line where excluded.
Several units of measurement have modified, which was perhaps one of the most unexpected changes. Vitamin D, A, and E were previously mentioned in IU, which stood for foreign units. Vitamin D is measured in micrograms (mcg) and vitamin A is measured in micrograms RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalents). Vitamin E is also known as a-tocopherol, and the IU unit has been replaced by milligrams (mg). The old label recorded folate as mcg, but the current label reports it as mcg DFE, which stands for Dietary Folate Equivalents.
NOTE: Since it is dependent on chemical properties per product, converting International Units to milligrams and micrograms involves a separate formula from nutrient to nutrient. Vitamin D, for example, has a molecular weight of.025 mcg per IU, while vitamin E has a molecular weight of 0.67 mg per IU. This online calculator can be used to measure the conversion of a nutrient.
Effects on Claims
A product claiming to be a high or rich supply of a nutrient must contain at least 20% of the daily value (DV). Those claiming to be a decent source of a nutrient must have at least 10% of the daily value.