The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a "modernized" version of the Nutrition Facts label on packaged food — you know, that little rectangle of info that can be both super helpful and super discouraging when you realize exactly how many calories are in your go-to afternoon snack.
Touting its refreshed design, the FDA explains on its website that the iconic look remains mostly unchanged except for a few important updates, the most obvious being the bigger and bolder type size for calorie count and serving size.
But there's more to this update than font styling. Here's what you can expect to see when the new labels debut by July 26, 2018:
Hello, Added Sugars! Goodbye, Calories From Fat
These two changes actually make us pretty happy. You'll now see Added Sugars below the Total Sugar count, which saves a lot of time spent squinting at the ingredient list, trying to remember which words are code for added sugar. And get ready to say buh-bye to Calories from Fat, because research has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount.
Updated Serving Sizes: A Double-Edged Sword
By law, a serving size has to be based on what people are actually eating — not what they should be eating, according to the FDA. Considering the ever-increasing number of Americans who are overweight or obese these days, it's safe to say our appetites have increased since the official serving sizes were established back in 1993. So this means serving sizes for some foods will increase on the new labels. For example, a typical serving of ice cream used to be ½ a cup, and now it's ⅔. For soda, a serving size has increased from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
So try to remember that serving size isn't necessarily linked to what's healthy; it's best to pay attention to the calories and other nutrition info when deciding how much to put on your plate.
Two Columns for 'Bingeable' Multi-Serving Packages
Ever buy one of those 24-ounce bottles of soda that you know is more than one serving, but you still end up chugging the whole bottle in one sitting? Now, for products like soda that are larger than a single serving but can easily be consumed in one, manufacturers must provide two columns of nutritional info: one for "per serving" and one for "per package/per unit."
A Refreshed List of Nutrients
Manufacturers must now declare the actual amounts of vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium rather than just the daily value percentages. And it's no longer mandatory to display vitamin A and vitamin C amounts; however, manufacturers can still opt to include them if they'd like.
A Clearer Footnote
The FDA also changed the wording on the footnote that explains the daily value percentage. It's basically the same exact message, but with a more authoritative approach to remind people that 2,000 calories a day is recommended:
Before: "Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie need."
After: "The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice."
For more details on the update, visit FDA.gov.