A Dietitian’s Take on the New Food Labels

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The updated food facts label has been a long time coming, and like many changes there are some positives as well as negatives.

The Positives:

Clearly labeling the amount of added sugars present in foods gives consumers the power to make informed decisions. Instead of trying to estimate the amount of added sugars in a food by deciphering the ingredient list, consumers can now read the grams of added sugars on the label and compare the amounts in different foods. The % Daily Value listing will make it even easier for consumers to see how the amount of added sugars in one serving of food fits into their overall daily food choices.

Dual-columns with information on "per serving" as well as "per package" for foods that are often consumed in larger portions at one sitting are great. Seeing the calorie difference between one serving of potato chips and the entire bag of potato chips may help us decide to eat less.

For foods and beverages that are between one and two servings, like a 20-ounce juice beverage, the label will now state the calories and nutrients for the entire bottle as one serving. Since most of us eat or drink whatever is in the package, this labeling makes a lot of sense.

The Negatives:

Portion sizes are increased to reflect the amount we’re actually eating. In my mind, just because we’re eating larger portions doesn’t mean that we should condone larger portions. That’s like raising the speed limit from 25 mph in residential areas to 35 mph because no one obeys the lower speed limit.

Most food manufacturers aren’t required to use the new food label until the end of July 2018. The label updates have been in the works for months, and it makes no sense to give companies two years to make these changes.

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC

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