Nutrition Labels: 4 Things You Must Know

Did you know all nutrition labels recently received a much-needed redesign?

Thanks to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nutrition labels you see on all your favorite boxes and cans at the grocery store will soon be easier to read and to find the most important information.

Why have changes been proposed? The last time nutrition labels received an update was more than 20 years ago and a lot of things in the food industry have changed since then, like food portions and healthy best practices. In short, the information on nutrition labels has been downright inaccurate for years now.

The FDA hopes the changes better reflect what's important in the nutrition and dietary world, increasing the chances you and I see food for exactly what it is when shopping instead of being fooled by serving size percentages and hidden details.

In addition to offering up these suggestions for change, the FDA has released a ton of educational information to help the average citizen understand exactly what the new nutritional labels show. Some of the images below show you exactly what's different about the new labels and how they better inform you about your food.

An infographic of the changes that were made to nutrition labels.
An infographic showing the changes to serving sizes.

1) Calorie Amounts are Larger than Life

If you never really looked at the calorie count of your favorite foods, you will now, whether you want to or not. The biggest change in the new nutrition labels are the massive increase in font size declaring the number of calories in the food. The larger font hopes to have a positive impact on both health education and obesity rates in the coming years.

2) Updated Serving Sizes

As the graphic above - released by the FDA - illustrates, food serving amounts have changed drastically in the last two decades. In today's market, companies can place a serving size of practically whatever they want, regardless of the item. That bottle of soda you just downed to get you through the rest of your afternoon? There may have been two or even three servings in there! Time to double or triple the information on the nutrition labels. Once the new design gets implemented, serving sizes will more properly represent how people typically eat a particular food item in one sitting.

3) It's Not Just Sugar

In recent years, the knowledge that sugar can be as damaging to our bodies than anything else has become mainstream. While real sugar is okay in moderation, it's the added sugars and syrups that can cause serious health problems down the road. To combat this negative effect, the new nutrition labels may include another line detailing the "Added sugars." This will give customers an idea of how much additional sweetener has been added to the product. Stay away from the added sugars!

4) Type of Fat > Calories from Fat

The mainstream thought has always been "stay away from fat!" However, recent studies and new information suggests that not all fat is bad. It's more rewarding and important to watch the types of fat that you consume on a consistent basis, being careful to stay away from trans fat and instead consume saturated fat when consuming a less than perfectly healthy food is inevitable. New nutrition labels will help you make the right decision when it comes to eating those "fatty" foods. Or not eating them.

As you can see, labels can be incredibly important. And if information is incorrect, your company should go to great lengths to correct them and re-distribute as soon as possible. That's what the FDA plans to do.

You may not see new nutrition labels on the shelves of your grocery store right away, however. The plan is for the new labels to be rolled out over a two year period. By 2017, let's hope we're all making better choices in the middle aisles of the grocery store.

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