Do you remember the last time you purchased a food at the grocery store thinking it was healthy, only to come home and further inspect the food label and discover it wasn’t quite as healthy as the packaging made it out to be? Surely, there must be a be a better way to find healthy options for our family and children rather than pulling out a magnifying glass to find out whether that tasty tube of yogurt is full of high fructose corn syrup.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has heard our cry. Other than adding trans fats to the label in 2006, it has been over 20 years since the food label required on packaged food has seen a major make-over. Within the next two years, we will see some big changes come to the food label that are designed to help us make healthy food choices.

nutrition food label changes added sugar

One of the most prominent and perhaps most useful food label changes, will be that the label must indicate how much total sugar in the product comes from added sugars.  Many foods we eat such as fruit and dairy products contain natural sugar but often contain added sugars. The new label will help us identify the sugar that was added to the product. That doesn’t just go for high fructose corn syrup, it will include any sugar that’s added, such as: honey, sugar, molasses, agave, cane sugar, dextrose, etc.

Another major change we will see is a change in serving sizes, they’ll be getting bigger. When I first realized the FDA planned to increase the serving size of ice cream to 1 cup instead of a ½ cup I was rather furious. Wouldn’t making the serving size bigger give people a better excuse to eat more? Let’s think it through. A half cup of ice cream that contains 180 calories per ½ serving doesn’t sound too bad right? 180 calories won’t break the calorie bank, but realistically you will end up eating 1 cup but still have 180 calorie mentality. Putting bigger numbers on the label might make us think twice about having a bowl of 360 calorie ice cream. To further back up the change, the purpose of the serving size is to reflect a typical amount eaten at one sitting of a food, not necessarily to tell us how much we should be eating.

Some other useful additions to the label will be important vitamins and minerals like potassium and Vitamin D. “Calories per package” will also be on the label, (no more math if you plan to eat the entire package). We will say good-bye to Vitamin C and A, but calcium and iron will remain in place. The percent Daily Value will move the left side of the label and the “calories per serving” and “servings per container” will be much larger.

The FDA plans to move forward with these changes with hopes of reducing obesity and helping people make more nutrient dense foods choices. With keener awareness of added sugars, serving sizes, calories, and nutrients, how will you help your family make healthier choices?

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