The FDA hasn't updated the nutrition facts panel in two decades.
"Nutrition is a science and we know that science changes. There's been a lot of research that's changed in the last 20 years. It's finally time to capture some of that research and put new information out there for the public," Registered Dietitian Allison Childress said. The most talked about change is the addition of an added sugars line.
"So right now carbohydrates are required to be listed on all nutrition facts panels, but there's no differentiation between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. So the new label will allow us to see how much sugar has been added to a food during the manufacturing process," Childress said.
A second adjustment: the levels of vitamin C and A will be removed from the label, and will be replaced with vitamin D and potassium.
"Research has shown that most Americans have an adequate intake of vitamin C and vitamin A, but not as much of an adequate intake of vitamin D and potassium, so those two additions are good for the label," Childress said. On the new label, those vitamins and minerals will be listed in units instead of percentages.
"So in the past the food label has said, here's calcium for example and it's 20 percent of your RDA. Now it will tell you exactly how many international units, micrograms are listed in your food. If you're really trying to get to a number of calcium or a number of vitamin D, you can see that on the label easier and count that better," Childress said. Another change includes more attention to calories.
"The calories are a much larger font than anything else on the label. If you're trying to make a good, quick decision and you don't have time to search through everything you can flip over the container and see the calories pretty easily," Childress said. Plus, there will be more of an emphasis on serving size.
"In the new label, it's bolded, It's mentioned in a couple of different places. It's much easier to find the correct serving size of your food product," Childress said. However, Childress said she wishes the FDA would standardize portion sizes.
"I think many times if we knew that every snack food we ate was a half a cup serving, it would make it easier for us to eat the correct portion size," Childress said. Nevertheless, she hopes the new label adds an ease of use for consumers.
"Especially regarding calories and serving sizes. I also hope it brings more awareness to foods that have added sugars and less demonization of good, healthy foods that may have a lot of sugars in them but they're naturally occurring sugars," Childress said. Most manufacturers will need to use the new labels by July 26, 2018.