New ‘Nutrition Facts’ Label Has Bad News for Your Sweet Tooth

Photo (cc) by Risager

The new version of the “Nutrition Facts” label that has appeared on most packaged foods for more than 20 years puts Americans’ sugar consumption — and overconsumption — in the spotlight.

Perhaps the most significant change unveiled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday is the addition of a line for added sugars.

So, in addition to the total number of grams of sugar in a product, the new label will also state how many of those total grams are from added sugar. Such sugars include those added to a product by the manufacturer, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruits.

The sugar industry, of course, is not happy about this change.

The Sugar Association said in a statement that the organization is “disappointed” by the new line for added sugars, accusing the FDA of a “lack of scientific justification” for it.

The FDA explains its decision to include the new line for added sugars as follows:

The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars.

The FDA says it is tough for people to meet their nutrient needs while also staying within their calorie requirements if more than 10 percent of total daily calories come from added sugars. The FDA notes that on average, Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugars.

The new label also will include other changes. For example, the FDA will require dual-column labels for certain multiple-serving products that can be consumed in either one sitting or multiple sittings. The dual-column labels will feature both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information. Examples of such products include a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips.

According to the FDA, the purpose of the dual-column label is so “people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.”

In addition, products that contain between one and two servings will be labeled as one serving because people typically consume them in one sitting. An example of such a product is a 20-ounce soda.

Other changes to the Nutrition Facts label include:

  • The “Calories,” “servings per container” and “serving size” sections will be emphasized by a larger and/or bold font.
  • Actual amounts of vitamins and minerals in a product will be declared, not just the percentage of daily value.
  • The “calories from fat” line will be removed. According to the FDA, research shows that the type of fat you eat is more important than the amount.

Most manufacturers are required to adopt the new label by July 2018.

What’s your take on how the FDA is changed the Nutrition Facts label? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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