The requirements
The new year marks the start of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new food label requirements designed to give consumers more accurate information. Food manufacturers with more than $10 million in annual sales had until January 2020 to comply with the new guidelines and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales have until 2021.

Serving sizes for many foods will change to reflect the amount people typically consume. The FDA used research on food consumption to determine the new serving sizes. For example, the serving size of ice cream increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup, resulting in a new food label that shows a pint of ice cream contains a more realistic amount of three servings instead of four. Servings per container and serving size listed on the label are also easier to read in larger and bolder type.

Consumers will no longer need to do math in the grocery store aisle to determine the number of calories in an entire container of food. New dual column labels will show nutrition facts side by side: one with nutritional information per serving and a second with information per entire package.

The Daily Values and % of Daily Values for nutrients have been updated based on new scientific evidence. Vitamin D and potassium are also required on the label because many Americans do not get the recommended amounts. Vitamins A and C are no longer required since deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today, but these nutrients can be voluntarily listed by manufacturers. The FDA advises consumers that 5% DV or less of a nutrient is considered low and 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.

Additionally, added sugars are now required on the label, which includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (e.g., a bag of brown sugar), and also includes sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.

Our take
The FDA hopes the new labels will make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.

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