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Understanding the New Food Labels

You may have noticed that the food labels on food are changing. The FDA is mandating some changes to food labels in an effort to help Americans make better food choices. The new labels don’t have to be implemented until January 2020 but some manufacturers have already changed to the new labels. (Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021 to comply)

One positive change is that the new label requires the milligrams of calcium in addition to the Percent Daily value. In the past only the Percent Daily value was required so you had to calculate it out to get the milligrams of calcium. The new labels have to use 1300 mg. calcium as the reference for the daily value, instead of the 1000 mg. the old labels used. 1300 mg is the requirement for 9 to 18 year olds and pregnant and lactating women. The Percent Daily Value won’t always sync up exactly with the milligrams because the label rounds to the nearest 5% when under 50% and to the nearest 10% when over 50%.

Another notable change is that serving sizes now have to more accurately reflect the serving sizes Americans actually eat and drink. But don’t confuse serving sizes with recommended servings as they may not be the same.

“Calories from fat” has been removed since recent research tells us the type of fat consumed is more important than total fat. We now encourage eating healthy fats like nuts and avocados.

The Percent Daily value for sodium went down from 2400 mg. to 2300 mg. The dietary fiber daily goal went up from 25 to 28 grams per day.

Another really positive change is that a subcategory of “added sugars” was added to “Total Sugars”. Added sugars are the sugars that are added to food and do not occur naturally in foods. Added sugars are the ones we need to limit. This is a change that can definitely help people eat better.

11/7/19 Addendum: The FDA is giving food makers an additional six months to comply with requirements for the updated Nutrition Facts labels. This enforcement delay until July 2020 is in response to industry's request for flexibility.

posted 4/18/2019