What Parents Need to Know About Their Children
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of changes to the current Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The changes reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. In addition, the new label will make it easier for families to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
Highlights of the New Nutrition Facts Label
- Increased type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size”
- Bolded number of calories and the “Serving size”
- Changed Daily Value footnote to read: “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.”
- Reflection of updated information about nutrition science
- Included “added sugars” in grams and as % Daily Value on label
- Updated list of nutrients required or permitted to be declared on the label
- Removed “Calories from Fat” from the label
- Updated Daily Values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D
- Update to serving sizes and labeling requirements for certain package sizes
- By law, serving sizes must now be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
- Packages between one and two servings now require the calories and other nutrients to be labeled as one serving, because people typically consume it in one sitting. Package size affects what people eat.
- Manufacturers must provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package”/”per unit” basis for certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, you will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients you are getting if you eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why must “added sugars” now be included?
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars. See the AAP policy statement, Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools, for more information.
In addition, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugars. On average, Americans get about 13% of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages) and snacks and sweets (including grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings).