When you go grocery shopping, how often do you purchase food based on its nutrition label compared to how delicious it looks? The impact of nutrition guidelines has been examined as of late, and in 2016 the FDA announced that a new labeling system would be implemented. While companies had a certain period to comply, the deadline has now been extended with no firm date in sight.
What kinds of changes are being made to our nutrition labeling, and how do these shifts reflect the food industry and consumer eating habits? We explore what the new label looks like and the impacts it could have.
Let’s Be Realistic
In the past, the FDA guidelines stipulated that nutrition labels list serving sizes and package portions. These guidelines were based on what Americans should be eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. As time has gone on, it’s become quite clear that ice cream, sodas, or frozen entrees are consumed in one sitting rather than being separated into recommended portion sizes.
As a result, labeling will now reflect realistic serving sizes, and food items that could potentially be split into two meals by someone with a smaller appetite will be listed as one serving.
Focusing on Calories
One of most noticeable changes to nutrition labels comes in the calorie section. The calorie count is now larger and bolder to make this information easy to see at a moment’s notice. The FDA has also allowed food manufacturers to remove the information pertaining to calorie count derived from fat. Research has shown that the type of fat people consume is ultimately more important than the quantity.
Changing with Our Nutrient Needs
Perhaps one of the largest changes comes with the addition of information pertaining to sugar. Researchers have been emphasizing for years that sugar intake is out of control in American diets, and added sugars can severely impact one’s health. The latest scientific information has noted that problems arise when people consume more than 10% of their daily caloric needs from added sugar. This is because it leaves less room for other nutrient dense food.
All food labels will now be required to list a percentage as well as gram count for added sugar in their products. Aside from providing more information, this shift marks an overall emphasis to educate consumers and help them to make healthier choices. The snack industry alone has seen a huge increase in demands from customers wanting healthier options and even easier packaging solutions. Placing this emphasis on the label goes even further toward making smarter choices.
Finally, the new nutrition label will change to reflect vitamins and nutrients that are lacking in today’s average diet, and will further clarify the %DV recommendation to aid in making better food choices.
While many brands are slow to adopt this new labeling system, it will be fascinating to see how it ultimately influences consumer food choices and how it shapes our overall health and nutrition.