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Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

Food Labels are Getting a Makeover

The Food and Drug Administration announced in May that changes will be made to the Nutrition Facts Label over the next couple of years to make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating. 

The current label is more than 20 years old and this is the first major overhaul of the Nutrition Facts Panel since 1993.  The new label is designed to make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.  The changes are based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.

Manufacturers will need to use the new labels by July 26, 2018, however companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.

Here are the highlights of the new Nutrition Facts Label:

  • Detail about the amount and percent daily value of added sugars in the products will now be on the Nutrition Facts Label.  “Added Sugars” are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.  This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruit.  The major sources of added sugars for Americans are sugar-sweetened beverages, snacks, and sweets.  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars (<10% of your total daily calories from added sugars).
  • Serving sizes will be updated to reflect how much of the product is typically consumed in one sitting.  By law, serving sizes must be based on amount of food 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 for a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.  Nutrient information on the new label will be based on these updated serving sizes so it matches what people actually consume.
  • Updated footnote explaining “Percent Daily Value (%DV)” has been added.  The %DV’s help evaluate how a particular food fits into a person’s daily meal plan. Daily values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories per day. DV’s for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific evidence.  Aim for high DV’s (20% or more) in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and aim for low DV’s (5% or less) in added sugars, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Vitamin D and Potassium are being added to the Nutrition Facts Label.  These are nutrients Americans don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys, and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and Potassium can help lower blood pressure. Calcium and Iron are already required and will remain on the label. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on the label as deficiencies in the general public are now rare, however manufacturers are still able to list these vitamins voluntarily.
  • The new labels will have bolder, more prominently displayed calorie counts and serving sizes to emphasize parts of the label that are important in addressing current public health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Here's what's different on the new label: 

- Laura Quinn RDN, CDN Sodexo Dietitian at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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