The FDA just released its first major change to its nutritional labels in over twenty years. Here’s the new label you can expect to see on the back of your food:
There are a lot of changes—and a lot to like—in this newest update. Calorie counts are bigger and easier to read. A line has been added to let eaters know how sugar levels of the product stack up against daily values. Daily values for things like fiber and sodium, which were set in the mid-1990s, have been adjusted for current recommendations. Vitamins A and C (which have almost no recorded deficiencies among Americans today) were removed, and Vitamin D and potassium (for which deficiencies are rising) were added.
Serving sizes are the most significant change. They’re being adjusted to reflect the amounts we’re really eating. “By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating . . . The reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup,” the FDA said in a statement. “The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.”
Split serving sizes—which insist that the bottle of soda or mini-bag of potato chips you just opened is really meant to be multiple portions—now also have to be paired with nutritional information for the whole package.
Yet, for all that’s changing, there’s still a lot about the original design that’s being preserved. Look at this side-by-side comparison—if you weren’t looking for the changes, there’s a chance you may miss them entirely:
It’s no coincidence. During the two-year process to get this update issued, there was some speculation that the FDA might go with a different kind of look. Instead, the agency’s announcement calls the design “iconic” and replicates it pretty faithfully, perhaps to give Americans a sense of continuity as the first big changes in over two decades roll out.
The deadline for the change is July 26, 2018. But you should start seeing the new labels much earlier, as manufacturers start to make the switch.