What is new about the nutrition label? – Harvard Health Blog Health Education

The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) prescribes nutritional labeling for most packaged foods. This includes canned and frozen foods, bread, cereals, desserts, snacks, drinks and a variety of other foods that line the aisles of grocery stores. Food labels – officially called nutritional labels – are designed to help consumers choose healthy foods. It is the FDA’s responsibility to ensure that foods are properly labeled.

Many changes to the original law and label have been made over the years. The latest version of the food label was introduced on January 1, 2020 for larger food manufacturers. smaller manufacturers have until January 1, 2021 to introduce the new labels.

Here you will find an overview of the functions that you will find on the new food labels.

serving size

The new food label shows “portions per container” and “portion size” in a larger font size and a bolder type. According to the NLEA, portion sizes must be based on the reference amounts that are commonly consumed (RACCs) – the amounts that people actually eat and not on the recommendations they recommend for eating. The amounts that people eat and drink have changed since 1993 when the previous portion size requirements were published. For example, in 1993 the reference amount used for one serving of soda was 8 ounces; it will now be 12 ounces. A serving of ice cream has also increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup.

For packages with one to two servings, e.g. For example, a 15-ounce can of soup, the package on the label is now treated as a single serving, since users usually consume it at the same time.

Certain foods and beverages that are larger than one serving but can be eaten in one session are now displayed in two columns: one shows calories and other nutrients per serving, the other shows the same information for the entire pack.


Calories are now shown much more on the label. However, “calories from fat” no longer appear on the food label, as research has shown that the type of fat in a food is more important than the amount of fat.

Added sugar

One of the biggest changes is that the new food labels show the amount of added sugar – sugar added during food processing. Added sugars are a bigger problem than natural sugars, which are naturally found in all foods that contain carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy products.

Research shows that eating more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugar is difficult to meet nutritional needs while maintaining calorie limits (added sugars are shown on the label in both grams and percent of daily value ) indicated. Too much sugar can also lead to weight gain and other health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.


The FDA definition of dietary fiber, used as a guideline for labeling food labels, includes both naturally occurring fibers and fibers added to foods that have physiological health benefits. Dietary fiber is naturally found in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, bran bran, cereal flakes and flours. In addition, some indigestible carbohydrates added to foods also meet the FDA definition of fiber and are included in the fiber value on the new food label.

Nutrients and daily values

The list of nutrients on the food label has been updated. Vitamin D and potassium are now needed; Vitamins A and C are no longer required because a lack of these vitamins is rare these days. Calcium and iron are still needed. In addition to the daily percentage value, manufacturers must state the actual amount of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. On the old food label, the manufacturers only had to indicate the daily percentage of these nutrients.

Daily values ​​are the reference amount of nutrients that may be consumed or not exceeded and are used to calculate the daily value percentages on the label. This can help the consumer use the nutritional information as part of an overall daily diet. They are based on 2,000 calories, which is a reference number of calories for general advice. Individuals may need fewer or more than 2,000 calories a day, depending on their specific needs.

Daily values ​​for nutrients such as fiber, sodium, vitamin D, and potassium have all been updated based on the latest research from the Institute of Medicine and the report by the 2015 Dietary Advisory Committee used in developing the 2015-2020 Diet for Americans.

With its more realistic measure of portion size and emphasis on calories and added sugars, the new food label can help consumers choose healthier foods.

Source: FDA

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