Are You Ready? Food Label Changes Are Heading Our Way!

It’s been a few months since they’ve made the announcement: nutritional labels on food are going to change; but they haven’t changed yet. 

After extensive negotiations with the food and beverage industry, various government agencies, public health advocates, nutrition researchers and consumer groups, the Obama administration has enacted changes to the US Food and Drug Administration’s food labels  in conjunction with battling childhood obesity and promoting healthier eating. These changes have been more than twenty years in the making.

Very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food that you're buying is actually good for your kids, so that's a phenomenal achievement. — Michelle Obama
Businesses, depending on size, will have two to three years to comply with changing the labels on food products to meet the new standards. Consumers will be looking at two and three different kinds of nutrition labels for a while yet.

So what changes are we going to see?
Overall Look and Feel
The first thing you will notice, is that the new label doesn’t look a whole lot different. Going for consistency and a clean informative design, we will all still know what a nutritional label should look like when we pick up a food package.

Stylistic Changes
While the overall look will be the same, recommendations were made to change the size of certain line items so that we would be able to recognize them more easily. Sometimes food labels have to list a lot of information, but we often only want to look at specific information. One of the most often referenced items on the label, calories per serving, will have a much more prominent place on the new label.

More Stylistic Changes
Depending on the product you purchase, you may see a two column format to the label. Why two columns of information? What happens when you eat a can of soup or a large bag of chips? Are you going to stick to the recommended single serving size? Have you been guilty of eating everything in the package? With the new two column label, you will be able to see the nutritional content of a single serving as well as the entire package. While this may not deter you from eating the whole package it will give you more nutritional information without having to do any math.
What’s Going
There are a few things that are no longer going to be required on the labels. The rationale for these is that it is not informative or no longer a public health risk:
• Calories from Fat
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C

What’s Staying
All groups involved working on changes agreed that the following information is still relevant to consumers in making appropriate food decisions for their health needs:
• Fats: Total Fats, Saturated Fat, and Trans fats
• Cholesterol
• Sodium
• Total Carbohydrates
• Dietary Fiber
• Sugar
• Protein
• Calcium
• Iron

What’s Coming
Additions to the food labels were based on either overconsumption or a nutrient deficiency amongst the people:
• Added Sugars
• Vitamin D
• Potassium
The intention is not to tell consumers what to eat, but rather to make sure they have the tools and accurate information they need to choose foods that are right for themselves and their families. - Susan Mayne, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
What’s Changing
Some items on the food labels needed a little tweaking to reflect actual consumption trends and more clarification:
• Serving Sizes - reflecting actual portions eaten
• Odd Sized Packages - adjusting to a single serving size
• % Daily Value - clarified to better understand nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet

It will be a while yet before everything is switched over to the new food label format, so you’ll need to still be able to decipher the old one. Contact the professionals at Metabolic Medical Center to review your nutritional needs and to help you correctly read nutritional labels.

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