How to Make Sense of the New U.S. Nutrition Labels

How to Make Sense of the New U.S. Nutrition Labels

Consumers in the United States may have to wait until January 1, 2020, to see the new nutrition label on all foods, but the wheels are in motion. Although the Food and Drug Administration originally had named July 26, 2018, as the required deadline for revamped nutrition food labels, The Washington Free Beacon announced recently that the FDA had moved that date to 2020. The label changes were part of what Michelle Obama championed during her anti-obesity “Let’s Move” efforts while she was First Lady.

Read about nutrition label changes may influence healthier choices

The main reason for the delay is that food companies and trade groups said they needed more time to reformulate their products, update their labeling software, and secure nutritional information from their suppliers. For some food manufacturers, this is a huge task given the many products they have on the market.

What’s new in nutrition labels

The new nutrition labels, which will gradually make their way onto grocery shelves as some companies will comply before the deadline, will display a number of changes. For example:

• Calorie count and serving size are in a larger font and thus more easily seen

• Sugar content will be broken down into “total sugar” and “added sugar,” with the % Daily Value also given. This modification is especially significant since overconsumption of added sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other serious health problems

• Recommended daily intake values have been modified

Servings sizes are larger, which is a truer reflection of the eating habits of Americans

• Values for vitamins and minerals (e.g., calcium, vitamin D, potassium, iron) in the lower portion of the label will now provide amounts in milligrams and micrograms as well as percentages

• Information about % Daily Value has been simplified

The Obama administration stated that changes to the nutrition facts label was important for Americans to “make more informed food choices.” The FDA echoed that sentiment, noting that the new labels for packaged foods will “reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.” One thing to keep in mind: the new regulations only apply to food manufacturers who make more than $10 million in sales annually.


Food and Drug Administration. The new nutrition labels. Side-by-side comparison

Harrington E. FDA delays new nutrition facts label unveiled by Michelle Obama. The Washington Free Beacon. 2017 Oct 3

Meyer Z. FDA delays deadline for nutrition labels. USA Today June 13, 2017

The White House. The White House and FDA announce modernized nutrition facts label. 2016 May 20

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