The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant changes to the nutrition facts panel (NFP) nationwide. This large-scale revision to the labels of nutritional and supplemental facts panels, both in regards to the design and informational content, signifies the first such move since the guidelines were first put in place nearly 20 years ago. The updated NFP has been issued in an effort to assist consumers in making more informed decisions surrounding their nutritional intake for both themselves and for their families.
Nutrition facts panels are the leading source of information on calories, fat, nutrients, and serving sizes for products. According to the 2014 FDA Health and Diet Survey, half of all adults surveyed reported that they read the nutrition facts label “all” or “most of the time” when deciding whether or not to purchase a product. The update couldn’t be more apropos, as eating habits and dieting trends have changed drastically since the first inclusion of NFPs on products beginning in 1993.
The new nutrition facts label will include the following revisions:
- Changes to the design to highlight calories and servings labels
- Updates on % Daily Values for sodium, fiber, and vitamin D that reflect current dietary guidelines
- Adjustments to the calories per serving, so to more closely reflect current and accurate consumption patterns and serving sizes
- Listing of information on vitamin D and potassium, including the amount and % Daily Value. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required listed-items.
- Addition of grams and a % Daily Value for added sugars
- Removal of ‘Calories from Fat’ in light of research suggesting that the type of fat that is being consumed is more important than the amount of calories from fat itself
- Inclusion of dual-column labels to show both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for multi-serving products that are consumable in one sitting
While these changes to the nutrition facts panel are intended to support consumers in navigating the products they select in regards to their dietary concerns, the consumer research done to support the changes as beneficial and helpful to shoppers is currently inadequate. Although the FDA did not conduct further research prior to the updates, they have announced their commitment to providing consumers with educational content in order to enhance consumers’ understanding of the updated NFP. It is the hope that through such educational tools, consumers will be able to make better guided-decisions on health and nutrition through the supplemental aid of the new NFP–labels that should now more accurately reflect current eating patterns and dietary needs.