By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The Food and Drug Administration has issued new requirements for the Nutrition Facts label, listing calories in bigger bolder type and inserting a new line for added sugars. Serving sizes were also updated to make them more realistic.
The rules were issued on Friday and first lady Michelle Obama will announce them at the Building a Healthier Future summit in Washington, D.C., as part of her Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity.
The overhaul has been a long time coming with the FDA first proposing the changes two years ago. This is the first major update of the labels since they were created more than 20 years ago.
The changes will make calorie count information more transparent and easier to understand. Under the new rules, calorie count per serving will be clearly visible on the label.
Also, serving size information should better reflect what people typically eat in one sitting. For example, a 12-ounce bottle of soda — previously labeled as one-and-a-half servings — will now be listed as a single serving. In addition, packages of a certain size will be required to provide “dual column” labels that include calorie and nutrient information based on a single serving as well as for the entire package. The goal is to make it clear how many calories are consumed from one serving versus the full package.
For the first time, companies will be required to provide information on the amount of sugar that has been added to a product. Added sugars will be listed on a separate line and this should help consumers see how much sugar was added by the manufacturer compared to the naturally occurring sugar found in foods like fruit and milk.
The new rule also requires labels to include the Daily Value for added sugars, so people can understand how much of that can be eaten and still maintain a healthy diet.
There will also be updates to the daily levels of some nutrients, including sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D. The FDA lowered its daily sodium recommendation to 2,300 milligrams to match the sodium recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Lastly, potassium will be added to the list of nutrients required to appear on food labels.
The FDA said it considered daily value revisions based on scientific evidence related to published recommendations.
“Healthy eating is a pillar of success,” said AHA chief executive Nancy Brown. She noted the rules “will put more useful nutritional information in the hands of all Americans.”
The food industry has two years to comply with the changes. Small manufacturers have three years.