Thank you to the Food and Drug Administration for making changes to the food nutrition labels that appear on our food products! Nutritional labels on confusing, aren’t they? As someone who is an avid reader of food labels because of health issues, these are welcome changes.
Let’s see what those changes are…
Real Serving Sizes for Real People
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve eaten a whole small bag of vegetable chips thinking it was a healthier option than traditional potato chips. You flip the bag over and realize that 50 grams of sodium is so low because each bag has 3 servings!
Well, that’s not going to happen anymore. Serving size will reflect what a normal person would expect to eat in a single serving. They will reflect “typical consumption”. Here are some examples:
A serving of ice cream will go from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup.
A small bag of chips will be one serving.
Baked goods like muffins and cookies will not come in 1/2 sizes. One muffin will equal one serving.
Per Serving Versus Per Package
Food packages that are 200% or more larger than a normal single serving size will include addition information. This is the “per package” total.
Admit it, you’ve emptied whole containers because it tasted so good. Now you’ll see how many nutrients there are per serving and per container.
This only applies to products sold in packages of a certain size not meant for single serving consumption.
You May Get a Shock at the Nutritional Values of the Foods You Eat
Now that serving sizes will reflect real servings, you may be in for unexpected surprises. The nutritional values will be higher. This makes sense, doesn’t it? If a serving size goes from a teaspoon to a tablespoon or a half a cup to a whole cup, it’s only logical that the amount of iron, potassium, and calcium will be higher. The down side is that it also means the amount of sugar, sodium, and fat will be higher, too.
As a math challenged American, I appreciate seeing real numbers and not having to calculate just how much I’m putting into my system.
Added Sugars Get an Upgrade
When you eat that fruit filled delicious treat, just how many sugars come from the fruit and how many from the sugar, maple syrup, agave, and other sweeteners? There’s no way to know with the old labels, but it will be required on the new labels.
This could be important to parents who give their children things like fruit cups. You’ll now be able to see how much sugar is produce and how much is from the added sweeteners.
This Information is Not Just for the Health Conscious But Those with Health Issues
Everything I’ve read up to this point focuses on the affects of food consumption on obesity. However, the label changes are going to be very important to those with chronic health issues.
So many of us are measuring and calculating the nutrients we get each day. Some have to keep their sodium down, others their sugar, some are watching their protein, while others are looking to increase important nutrients. Some of us are cutting calories, while others need to add to them.
This puts a powerful, updated tool in our hands so that we can make better dietary decisions.
For more information, check out the New Nutritional Label resources on the FDA.gov website.