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FDA follows the science for new label

Nutrition labels are getting a major facelift! The FDA announced today they are updating their nutrition label requirements to make knowing what you’re eating a whole lot easier.

Bigger, bolder type for calories and servings, grams instead of percents for nutrients like potassium and revealing total grams of added sugars in food items are among the changes.

“I think the new FDA food labels have several positive changes for consumers. The first change that I really like is the larger, bold type,” says Staci Small, MA, RD from Wellness Philosophy, Inc. in Indianapolis.

Small thinks the old labels were somewhat deceiving when it came to things like serving sizes that were hidden or obscured and made it hard for consumers to figure out exactly what they were eating and how that correlated to the nutritional facts.

“Now, the serving size is in large type. It’s bold. And the calories are bold. So it’s a little bit easier just at a quick glance to understand how much I’m going to be eating and how much is that going to be in calories,” remarks Small.

However, some think the noting of total grams of sugar could have the most significant impact on consumers.

This is because the new label will differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and sugars added to items during processing or packaging.

Current nutritional science dictates that different sugars impact insulin levels in different ways. While, naturally occurring sugars like in fruit are good for you, refined sugars like in candy bars raise insulin levels much higher.

This could be one reason why the FDA chose to make the changes it did so now.

Susan T. Mayne, Ph.D. and Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition says though the original nutrition labels have stood the test of time, they do update them as needed.

“We did update it in 2006 as the science had come out about the importance of trans fat with regard to cardiovascular disease. And now we’re updating again based on how the science has changed,” states Mayne.

Interestingly, though added sugars include natural sugars like syrups and honey, the FDA says non-caloric sweeteners like Sweet and Low are not considered added sugars.

The FDA says changes will be required by July of 2018. However, manufacturers that make under $10 million in annual food sales will be given an additional year to comply.

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