An Overview of the New FDA Nutrition Facts Food Label

The New and Improved FDA Food Label - A Registered Dietitian's Review

It’s important to know what’s in the food we routinely eat. Fortunately, food labels are getting a facelift, and it will be easier for consumers to interpret and understand the ingredients and nutrition labels.

The nutrition facts label mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a tool that can help you make informed food choices. As of July 26, 2018, a new food label will be introduced, and by January 1, 2021, the old food label will be a thing of the past.

In this article, I’ll be reviewing the newly updated nutrition facts food label (including the changes that will impact you the most).

RELATED: What Is a Registered Dietitian (Food and Nutrition Expert)?

This is the NEW nutrition facts food label compared to the old one.
OLD food label on the left; NEW food label on the right.

Serving Size

You can find the number of servings per container and the recommended serving size underneath the bold “Nutrition Facts” title. The single-serving size is the suggested amount to consume in one sitting. For example, take a look at the new food label listed above. There are 8 servings per container, and a single-serving size is equal to 2/3 cup.

It’s important to note the suggested serving size because the nutrition information listed is based on one serving.

RELATED: Food Portion Sizes: What You Need To Know for Weight Loss Success

Calories

The number of calories in a single serving is listed just above total fat. This information is enlarged and in bold print on the new label to make it easier to find.

If you look at the new nutrition label listed above, we know that there are 230 calories in every 2/3 cup serving.

If you want to calculate the total amount of calories in the entire package, simply multiply 230 calories by 8 (because there are 8 total servings in the entire package).

Total Fat 

“Total Fat” is listed directly under calories per serving. It’s listed in grams (g). The amount of saturated fat and trans fat are detailed underneath. As a rule of thumb, I always recommend limiting your intake of unhealthy fats.

Some companies display grams of healthy fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, but this is not a requirement. 

It’s important to note that “total fat” is the sum of all fats. 

Cholesterol and Sodium

The total amount of cholesterol and sodium in one serving of food is listed in milligrams (mg).

If you look at the new nutrition label photo above, you’ll see that there’s 160mg sodium in every 2/3 cup serving.

Aim to limit sodium to 2,300 mg per day for a healthy heart.

Total Carbohydrate

The total amount of carbohydrates is displayed in bold and listed in grams (g). Similar to fats, the types of carbohydrates, such as fiber and added sugars, are listed underneath.

It’s recommended to keep your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total calories. If you are following a 2,000 calorie diet, that means less than 50g of added sugar daily (each gram of sugar equals 4 calories) but ideally, you want this number to be as close to zero as possible. 

RELATED: Hidden Sugars In Your Foods: Here’s What You Need To Know

Protein

The last bold title is for protein, also listed in grams (g).

The recommendation is to get 10-30% of your calories from protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

The bottom section of the label lists micronutrients, also known as vitamins and minerals.

Companies are required to list vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium content; however, some companies choose to list more.

RELATED: Multivitamins for Children: 4 Things To Consider

% Daily Value

You’ll see percentages along the right side of the label. Percentages for fat and carbohydrates are calculated based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. If you look at the picture included above, the new nutrient label has 10% next to total fat. This means that this specific food product contributes to 10% of your fat calorie needs per serving.

RELATED: Make Healthier Drink Choices

Conclusion

Reading the nutrition facts label can be confusing, and it certainly takes practice. Fortunately, the new label changes are designed to make nutrition facts easier to read and understand.

For more information about reading food labels, visit fda.gov.

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Sarah Trinajstich, RD, IBCLC
Hi, my name is Sarah Trinajstich. I'm a registered dietitian and an international board-certified lactation consultant. I received my bachelor's degree and completed my dietetic internship at California State University Long Beach. I then completed my lactation consultant education at the University San Diego Extension. I believe in the power of good nutrition from the moment of conception and the importance of breastfeeding, not only for babies nutrition but for the bonding and physical benefits to baby and mom. There is no greater satisfaction for me than to help a mother and her baby breastfeed successfully. Breastfeeding is more than what the body does without thinking. It involves skills that mom and baby learn together. I look forward to help ease the learning curve!

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