Written by: Joy Dubost PhD, RDN
After nearly 20 years, the FDA has made a few significant changes to the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and beverages to reflect updated scientific information, new research, and public input! Therefore, Unilever has partnered with the Reagan-Udall Foundation to help raise awareness and educate on these changes with FDA’s “New Nutrition Facts label & What’s In It For You” campaign.
Whether or not you have used the label in the past, now is a perfect time to get reacquainted with the new label’s design and information to assist you in selecting products and make more informed choices as part of an overall healthy eating plan.
Some key changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) include:
- The serving size now appears in larger, bold font and some serving sizes have been updated
- Calories are now displayed in larger, bolder font.
- Daily Values have been updated
- Added sugars, Vitamin D, and potassium are now listed. Manufacturers must declare the amount in addition to percent Daily Value (DV) for vitamins and minerals.
Servings Listed are Not Always the Recommended Portion to Consume
With the new NFP, you will notice that some servings have increased or decreased. Contrary to what many believe, the ‘serving size’ declared is based on what people typically consume and not on how much one should consume as a portion. Data has shown that people are consuming more ice cream, hence, the reference amount was updated by the FDA from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. Similarly, the reference amount for many beverages increased from 8 oz to 12 oz. Lastly, products that previously declared ‘about 2 servings or less’ now need to declare the entire package/can/pouch as a serving.
In instances like this, it is important to look at the NFP to see if there is dual column labeling. To promote balanced portions, we now use a voluntary dual column label on many Unilever products to ensure consumers are well-informed. With dual column labeling, one column would list the nutrition of the entire product, which is required by the FDA, and the second column would show the reference amount customarily consumed, such as 1 cup for a pasta, rice, or soup or 1 Popsicle®, snack size or “mini” ice cream bar.
FDA Educational Campaign
To learn how the label can better inform you and your food and beverage choices, check out FDA’s new campaign. This includes fun new videos of food products receiving a make-over in addition to educational web-pages, fact sheets, downloadable materials, an interactive label website, middle and high school curricula, and continuing medical education modules.