Nutrition: Label Makeover

Posted on Mar 11, 2014 by Hilton Head Health

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The bad news for me is that I am going to have to revise my portion control class; the good news for you is that the food labels are going to become less confusing.  One of the topics that I usually spend at least a few minutes on during the portion control class is the importance of checking out the serving size, and the portions per container on food labels.  As we have discussed in the class the serving size listed on the label is often much smaller than the amount that people actually consume, even for products that appear to be a single serve size. For example, a typical convenience store muffin might have a seemingly reasonable 200 calories per serving, but a close inspection with a magnifying glass would reveal that the muffin has 3 servings, 600 calories not the assumed 200 calories. And how many of you actually get 4 servings out of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, as the label suggests you should.  According to the FDA, the proposed changes to the serving size requirements will go into effect in about 2 years (the FDA moves slow, but at least I have plenty of time to work on my presentation)   The changes reflect how people eat and drink today  rather than how much the FDA thinks you “should” eat. That 20 ounce vending machine soft drink will be labeled as 1 serving not the 2 and ½ that it currently lists. The muffin discussed earlier would be labeled as 600 calories.

In addition to adjusting serving sizes they will be making a few other changes as well.  The revised labels will specifically list “added” sugars, making it easier to know if you exceeding the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit added sugars to 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. In addition, for the first time potassium and vitamin d will be listed, two nutrients that Americans tend to be deficient in.

Since the labels were last revised 20 years ago, these changes should make it easier to make informed choices when checking out food labels.

Below is a video explaining the new label.


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