FDA-new-nutrition-label The old FDA nutrition label is on the left. The redesigned version is on the right.

The Food and Drug Administration has revealed the final changes to the nutrition label, and while the iconic look of the label remains, some of the information is changing. The new labels from the FDA are schedule to appear on packages by July 2018, but manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an extra year to make the changes.

As you can see from the side-by-side comparison above, the most noticeable changes are that the serving size and calorie count information are larger and in bold. The way serving sizes are determined is changing, too. Serving sizes must now be "based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating." So under these guidelines, a serving of soda just got bigger: from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.

Along the same lines, a 20-ounce soda will be considered one serving because most people treat a regular-sized soft drink as one serving. The FDA is calling this a reality check.

fad-food-sizes

Another important change will be in the way sugar is labeled. Before, sugar was lumped all together, whether it was naturally occurring or from added sweeteners. The amount of total sugars is still on the label, but the added sugars are shown on a separate line because "scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar."

Here are some other changes:

  • Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on the label. Apparently, Americans are getting plenty of them. Vitamin D and potassium are being added to the label because Americans don't get enough of them.
  • “Calories from Fat” is being removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific evidence.
  • The footnote has been rewritten to better explain what percent Daily Value means.

This last graphic highlights all the changes to the new label, which hasn't had a redesign in more than 20 years.

differences-in-new-nutrition-label

Now that the nutrition label has been updated to reflect more recent science, we need to get to work on the front-of-packaging marketing claims. Last fall, The Food Label Modernization Act was introduced in Congress. If passed, the rule would define what manufacturers could put on the front of a package and would also require certain information, like calorie counts and serving sizes.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.