Typically, most people spare a few seconds to read the label on a product before dumping it in their shopping cart. The real question however is- how much information can you glean from a product label? Up until now, the label has not been particularly helpful or truthful in telling consumers exactly why they are consuming. All that is about to change though. The new regulations issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will ensure that nutrition product labels do more than just listing a number of high sounding chemicals no one can really decipher, but actually, offer best nutrition tips to help consumers make informed buying decisions.
This change is the first of its kind since product labels were introduced in 1994. Resulting from updated science, recent dietary recommendations, and feedback gleaned from the public, the new label is expected to help consumers easily make healthy food choices when purchasing processed foods. All packaged foods produced in the US and imported for consumption in the US are expected to abide by these regulations in their labeling. While some manufacturers have already implemented the required changes, it is mandated that large-scale producers affect the changes by June 2018 and small-scale producers by July 2019.
Calorie and fat type
Just stating how much fat or calories are in the food hardly helps, the new labels will not only state how much “calories from fat” is in the food item but will clearly state the actual percentages from the unhealthy saturated and trans-fats. This is a valuable nutrition tip as the type of fat consumed matters much more than the number of calories when health outcomes are considered. Interestingly, this information is likely to be the first anyone will spot on the label as it will be written in darker, larger font.
Formerly, labels often show the percentage of calories obtained from sugars in the food item. That will not cut it anymore, labels will now have to clearly show the percentage obtained from added sugars as well. This is another amazing nutrition tip as consumers will now be able to choose foods with lower amounts of added sugars. Ideally, once the percentage of added sugar has exceeded 10%, the food can no longer be considered healthy. Since the major sources of added sugars consumed in the US are from sweetened beverages, sweets and deserts, consumers will be able to make informed choices in favour of their health when purchasing these items.
Another thing that is different on the new label is the serving size indication. The old labels were made about two decades ago, an era when people tended to eat less. The new labels will, therefore, indicate serving portions likely to satisfy today’s consumer as opposed to attempting to dictate ideal serving sizes. The direct effect of this is that people will easily be able to calculate exactly how much calories they consumer regularly. Since portion control is a huge part of nutrition, this information unarguably fits into a class of best nutrition tips.
Two column labels
You can henceforth expect to see nutrition labels written in two columns. One indicating what you will be consuming in one serving and the other indicating what the entire product package contains. This way, it won’t matter if you consume the product in serving sizes or wolf it down at once, you will still be aware of your nutrient and calorie intake.
Mandatory nutrients – updated
- Labels must now clearly indicate Vitamin D and potassium values
- As always, Calcium and iron are required
- Vitamins A and C will now be voluntarily included, they are no longer mandated.
- The daily limit on sodium will be upgraded from 2,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020.
Best nutrition tips to watch out for
- Ensure your added sugars intake never exceeds 10% of total calories consumed in a day. If you consume 1000 calories, for instance, your added sugars must not exceed 100 calories.
- Always make sure to read the nutrition facts on the product label before purchasing packaged food items
- Plain water is always better for you than sweetened beverages if you are looking to reduce your calorie intake. Remember to read a label on sweetened beverages before consumption.
- Make sure to ascertain the serving portions of anything you are eating and limit serving size on treats like desserts.