woman reading food label

You’ve done this a thousand times. Grab a drink or a bag of chips at the store and look at the nutrition labels and say to yourself, “Ehh, it’s not that bad.” But more often than not, that information on the back of that packaging is misleading. Most people don’t realize that there is more than just one serving in what they are purchasing.

For example, in one 12oz bag of Doritos, a serving size is 11 chips. In those 11 chips there are 140 calories, 8g of fat, 17g carbs, and 180mg of sodium. And who only eats 11 Doritos? This type of misinformation is happening all across the food and beverage industry, not just with chips. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking notice, and is proposing a strategy to change nutrition labels to reflect the amounts of food people are actually eating and drinking. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • A better understanding of the nutrition science listed on the label, which focuses on the effects that food components have on our health.
  • Certain package sizes will have updated serving size requirements and new labeling requirements.
  • A refreshed design of the label will be implemented.

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Changes Based on Nutrition Science

  • New labels will indicate how much “added sugar” is in a product. Currently, it’s difficult to tell what sugar is natural and what has been added by the manufacturer.
  • The daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will be updated.
  • Manufacturers will be required to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label, as well as calcium and iron. Research shows that Americans tend to not consume enough Vitamin D, which is essential for optimal bone health, and potassium, essential in keeping your blood pressure at a normal level.
  • Calories from fat will be removed from the label, while “total fat”, “saturated fat”, and “trans fat” will remain. FDA consumer research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Updated Serving/Label Requirements

  • Serving size requirements will be changed to reflect what people actually eat, not what they should be eating.
  • Packaged foods and drinks that are typically eaten in one sitting must be labeled as a single serving. The new label will display calorie and nutrient information for the entire package.
  • Large packages that can be consumed in one or multiple sittings must indicate both per serving and per package calories and nutrient information.

Refreshed Design

  • Percent Daily Value, a footnote at the bottom of the label, will move to the left. It also will clearly explain the meaning of the “Percent Daily Value.”
  • Calorie and serving sizes will appear larger.

When Will This Happen?

The FDA has separated the changes into two proposed rules: one for nutrition science and label design, and one for serving size requirements and labeling. Once the rules have been approved, which there is no set time table for; the FDA will allow food manufacturers two years to comply with the new regulation.