Decoding the New and Improved Nutrition Facts Label
Happy 2020 to all of you! We are all well aware that a new year means new changes. In this case, we’re referring to the latest updates to the nutrition facts label.
New regulations for nutrition labels released in 2016 are now required for companies with over $10 million in food sales, including a lot of school nutrition brands of which you’re familiar.
So what’s new? In this post, we reveal:
- The new Nutrition Facts label;
- What the FDA means by total sugar and added sugar.
- Changes to the list of vitamins and minerals.
- The new portion sizes.
- The new labeling for fats.
Ready to learn more? Let’s take a tour of the latest edition of the nutrition facts label!
Decoding the Nutrition Facts Label Changes
Total versus Added Sugar
While grocery shopping, did you notice that some packaged items now have a spot for both a total sugar amount and added sugar? Did it confuse you? Let us explain.
Total sugar is all of the sugar in a product, both added and natural. Added sugar is what manufacturers include in their products to add more flavor or sweetness. If a piece of fruit had a nutrition facts label, it would state that there are zero grams of added sugar. Compare that with a donut: its added sugars number is substantially higher.
Do you have parents in your schools complaining about the added sugars in flavored? Use the new nutrition facts label as a talking point; Over half of the sugar is natural and comes from lactose produced by the cow.
Sometimes people avoid drinking milk and eating fruit due to the sugars, which are mostly natural, and they end up missing out on a lot of health benefits! Natural sugars often pair with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial to your health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Another change? The vitamins and minerals label. The old nutrition label included Vitamins A and C, Calcium, and Iron. The new label includes Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.
Vitamins A and C are no longer included on the label because it’s no longer common for people to be deficient in these vitamins.
Vitamin D and Calcium are included because many Americans still aren’t getting their daily recommended dose of either. Both are vital for bone health, especially in growing children.
Next up is the serving size. This number now shows the serving size for what the typical person is going to eat.
For example, most people won’t eat just half a bag of chips, even if the serving size is two. The new serving shows the nutritional content for the whole bag, which is easier to understand and more realistic for the average person.
This also goes for ice cream: the average person eats about 2/3 cup, which was updated from the old ½ cup serving.
Changes to Fat Labeling
Can’t find calories from fat on the nutrition label anymore? That’s because it’s gone. It removed to reflect the most updated nutritional research that shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
For example, when you eat a piece of bacon or cheese (saturated fat) it’s processed differently by the body versus a piece of salmon (unsaturated fat and omega-3s) or something cooked in olive oil (monounsaturated fat).
While it is important to eat all foods in moderation, watching saturated fat intake will help keep your heart healthy.
Nutrition Facts Label and Your Nutrition Program
Looking for a place to enter in your new nutrition labels?
We’ve rolled out these changes in our web-based menus software (see the image below). We constantly make updates to MealsPlus to ensure school nutrition departments never have to worry about falling out of compliance.
When compliance concerns aren’t on your radar, you get to focus on planning delicious meals that help increase participation in your school meals program.
For more information on the changes to the nutrition facts label, be sure to visit the FDA’s website.