Nutrition Facts Are About to Get an Overhaul

© FDA

By Gillie Houston Posted May 24, 2016

This marks the first major changes to the iconic label in about 20 years, and big food manufacturers will be given up to two years to adjust their packaging.

Your packaged foods are about to get a makeover. On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a major redesign of the Nutrition Facts label on every bag and box lining the grocery store aisle. The FDA says the updated design will "reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease."

This marks the first major changes to the iconic label in about 20 years, and big food manufacturers will be given up to two years to adjust their packaging. Smaller manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to reflect the redesign. So what changes can consumers expect to see on the new label?

Your packaged foods are about to get a makeover. On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a major redesign of the Nutrition Facts label on every bag and box lining the grocery store aisle. The FDA says the updated design will "reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease."

This marks the first major changes to the iconic label in about 20 years, and big food manufacturers will be given up to two years to adjust their packaging. Smaller manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to adopt the redesign. So what changes can consumers expect to see on the new label?

Getting bolder. In an effort to make sure key information doesn't get lost in the busy black-and-white numeric shuffle, the new design will emphasize the "serving size," "servings per container," and most predominantly, the calorie count. By increasing the type size and bolding this information, the consumer won't have to search long for these key nutritional markers.

Serving sizes. Food packages labeled with low calorie counts due to questionablly low serving sizes might soon be a thing of the past. The FDA will now require the serving size label to reflect the amount of food a person actually eats. For products that are larger than a single serving, but are likely to be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings—such as 24-ounce soft drinks or pints of ice cream—manufacturers must provide dual labels that indicate the calories and nutrients "per serving" and "per package."

Sugar shock. As added sugars in food face growing public scrutiny, food manufacturers will now be expected to reflect the added sugar amount on the Nutrition Label. They'll also have to list the percentage of the daily recommended calorie allowance the contained sugar accounts for. The FDA notes that scientific data shows it's "difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of our total daily calories from added sugar."

New nutrients. A couple of new vitamins and minerals will be joining the pack at the bottom of the label. Potassium and vitamin D will join the likes of calcium and iron, while vitamins A and C will now be optional. Daily values for other nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will also be updated to reflect new scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report.

Notable. The label's footnote will also be revamped in order to better explain just what the percentage of Daily Value means, and how each nutrient contributes to the daily diet overall.

"The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices," FDA commissioner Robert Califf tells CNN of the long-awaited changes. The FDA is hoping that the new labels will be a "major step" towards addressing the widespread issue of obesity by providing clearer nutrition information on food packaging nation-wide.

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