New Food Label Spotlight: 7 Months Before The New Label Is Here!

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With countless aisles of multiple products, it’s no wonder many consumers dread the task of grocery shopping. Gone are the days when you could run in the store, grab a jug of milk and run out in just a few minutes. In addition to the plethora of products, new labels and updated US Dietary Guidelines are coming January, 2020! Given the high rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in the United States, there’s good reason to teach your clients about reading and understanding the new Nutrition Facts label. We’ll be exploring the changes in this new series.

There are some good changes to the Nutrition Facts label. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the food label has not undergone any big changes since 1994. Updates to the label are based on more recent science, public opinion, and the most recent US Dietary Guidelines, published in 2015. Food labels will be necessary on all US produced food as well as food imported from other countries. The initial date for changes was July 26, 2019. However, the FDA granted that companies with $10 million or higher in annual food sales will have until Jan 1, 2020 to be in compliance. Companies with annual sales below $10 million will have an additional year to be in compliance (Jan 1, 2021). 1

One change that consumers will notice is that the serving size and total calories will better reflect what a person would consume in one sitting. For example, a 20 oz. bottle of regular soda would typically be consumed as one serving, not 2 ½ servings as previous labels claimed. A 231-calorie drink may stop a person in their tracks versus a 96-calorie offering in 8 oz. of soda. A serving of ice cream increased from ½ cup to 2/3 of a cup as this is more in line with what a person may eat. The font for the serving size and calories is LARGER and in bold print for easier identification. In addition, a list of required ingredients in a food will be modified and must be declared. This is particularly important for those suffering food allergies or intolerance. 1

When it comes to fat on the label, this will be updated, too. Rather than focusing on the amount of fat in a food, manufacturers will highlight the type of fat contained in a product. For this reason, “calories from fat” will no longer be listed. 1 The total fat, saturated fat and trans- fat are still mandatory on a label, though some foods such as nuts, margarine and vegetable oils may voluntarily include mono or poly unsaturated fat to draw attention to their heart health benefits. This will make it easier for consumers to recognize good sources of healthier fats. For example, if a person normally uses coconut oil to cook with, they may switch to canola or olive oil oil to help reduce saturated fat intake after reading the label. While all three oils contain roughly 120 calories, coconut oil has 12 grams of saturated fat in a 1 Tbsp. serving compared to 1.1 grams of saturated fat in canola oil and 1.9 grams in olive oil, respectively. With all the hype about coconut oil, this is good information for your clients to know.

Stay tuned to learn about more changes to help consumers make more informed food choices!

Download Handout: 4 Steps to Read Food Label



Submitted by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD.

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