The Nutrition Facts Label and why it Matters
Ever notice that confusing table pasted onto literally every packaged food item? The nutrition facts label isn’t just there for decoration and you don’t have to be a food scientist to understand it. This label tells you all you need to know about how healthy (or unhealthy) the item is. Lists information about the nutrients and vitamins found in the product as well as fats and sugars. You should read it if you want to know the suggested serving sizes as well as the amount of added sugar in the item. This information isn’t only useful for calorie watchers, but will also help the average consumer understand what they are consuming and if they need to make any changes to their diet.
The FDA Update and the Transition Phase
Despite being fairly straightforward, the nutrition label was confusing for many consumers, who chose to simply ignore it. For this reason, and also to reflect actual serving sizes, it was recently updated by the FDA. With this recent change, the label’s format was altered as well as some of the information displayed on it. The aspects of the label that were affected are the serving sizes, calories, fats, added sugars, nutrients, and footnote. Although the FDA nutrition facts label change already took place, manufacturers have been given varying amounts of time to comply with it. You should be seeing the updated and improved label on every packaged food you purchase starting from January of 2021.
This will now be the aspect of the nutrition facts label that jumps out at you. It may even lure you into reading the rest of that label. The “Calories per serving” amount is now printed in a large bold font. Now you won’t have to scan the entire label to figure out how much you’ll have to exercise to burn off the energy gained from a given item.
Alongside the ‘total calories’ amount there also used to be the number of calories that one would gain from fat. However, when revising the nutrition facts label, the FDA realized that this was an unhelpful piece of information since not all fat is equally bad or good. The kind of fat that one consumes is more important than the quantity.
Those trying to cut back on sweets may have been shocked to realize how much sugar nearly everything contains. It should be known that not all sugars are equal and added sugars are definitely less healthy than those naturally found in items such as fruits and honey. The FDA decided to help consumers understand how much of the total sugar they will consume when eating a product did not get there by natural means. Added sugars include those that are added to the product while it is being prepared.
Serving sizes are now easier to spot and they tend to more accurately reflect the eating habits of the average consumer. The serving sizes are printed in a larger and bolder font.
The list of the nutrients that are required to be listed on the label has been updated to reflect current needs. The nutrients box now includes vitamin D and potassium since it has been noticed that Americans do not always consume enough of those. Vitamins A and C, on the other hand no longer need to be listed on the nutrition facts label since it is rare to not get enough of these two in today’s world. Scientific evidence was used to determine how much of each nutrient one needs to consume per day.
Those who have no idea how percent daily values work now have helpful tips available to them at the bottom of the nutrition facts label. This will help consumers better understand what they are consuming and what they need to get more or less of.
Although there are some people who will continue to ignore the nutrition facts label, the most important aspects will now stand out more. Consumers will have an easier time understanding what their products contain and whether or not they should consider changing their habits. However, despite these changes, some may still argue that this wasn’t enough and that the label is still confusing. What do you think? How can the label be revised and improved to become straightforward for everyone?