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From the Package to Your Plate

November 26, 2018

 

One question I get asked frequently is "what is the most important thing that I should look at on the food label?"  In my experience, it's different for everyone.   If you have diabetes, you'll likely want to pay close attention to Total Carbohydrate amounts; if you have high blood pressure, it might be Sodium that catches your eye.  If you are managing your weight, Calories are still king.  

 

While each person might look to the Nutrition Facts label for different information, labels can still be confusing and tricky. As of 1994, manufacturers were required to list a Nutrition Facts panel on all packaged foods that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

 

Did you Know?  The FDA oversees all packaged foods (except those containing meat or poultry, which are governed by the USDA), shelled eggs, and dietary supplements. 

 

Since 1994, there have been minor changes made to the Nutrition Facts label, but none as significant as the one that is coming by January 1st of 2020.   Let's take a side by side comparison of the old and new label.  We'll deconstruct the highlights of the new label in future blogs, but let's start today with "updated serving sizes."

 

 Graphic from the FDA website. 

 

As you can see from the comparison, both the serving size and servings per container are now printed in larger type and bold font.  This change was to bring our attention to serving size, as all the numerical information on the label is based on one serving of the food.  The FDA also instructed manufacturers to update portion sizes to what most people eat.  (No more 1/4 cup ice-cream servings!)   For example, most people don't make 2 1/2 servings out of a bottle of iced tea or eat 1/5th of a bag of microwave popcorn.  New serving sizes will represent more commonly consumed portions which will make the rest of the label more "real world."

 

Next up--we'll take on calories and fat content. Stay tuned!

 

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