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Monday, January 14, 2019

Get to Know the New Nutrition Facts Label

Grocery Market
You may or may not have noticed a change creeping onto your supermarket shelves.  During the past 2 years different looking nutrition labels have been showing up in your grocery store.  It has been 20 years since the nutrition labels on food products has been redesigned, so this is a very welcome change.  Most food producers have until January 1, 2020 to completely switch over to the new label, and smaller food producers have until January 1, 2021 to make the change.  

What is new and why do we care?  The changes better reflect current science and research regarding the American diet as well as current diet habits.  For example, you’ll not see Vitamin C and Vitamin A listed, but instead you’ll see Potassium and Vitamin D.  This is because research indicates that these nutrients are more commonly lacking in the American diet.  

Things that will jump out at you will be serving size and calories.  These are now in larger bolder fonts to make them easier to identify at a glance.  Serving sizes will reflect in many cases portions typically consumed.  For example, 20 oz. beverages will now be listed as one serving per container instead of two.   

One of my favorite changes is the addition of added sugars along with a percent daily value.  On the old label, total sugars didn’t tell the whole story.  For example, a cereal such as raisin bran may strike you as a very sugary cereal if you saw only the 10 grams of total sugars.  But with the new label, you’ll see that there are only 5 grams of added sugars.  The rest of the sugars are naturally occurring in the raisins.  The same goes for dairy foods that contain the naturally occurring sugar - lactase.  

One quick tip for using %DV: 5 is low, 20 is high. Keeping that in mind, you can easily make a comparison or judgement call on a food by comparing the %DV of nutrients that are of particular interest.  It makes choosing a lower sugar, higher fiber cereal easier, it makes choosing a lower sodium soup or canned product a bit simpler. 

So while you're waiting in line at the checkout, take a minute to get acquainted with the new Nutrition Facts Label and put this simple but efffective tool to work for you.

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