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The Grocery Manufacturers Association expressed caution about the new Nutrition Facts panel released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Because consumers could be confused by the new label with its numerous changes, a robust consumer education effort will be needed to ensure that people continue to understand how the revised label can be used to make informed choices and maintain healthful dietary practices,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, GMA’s chief science officer. “We look forward to working with FDA and other stakeholders on messages and activities to help consumers understand what the new labels mean.”
In the first major overhaul of the Nutrition Facts Panel since 1993, the FDA’s changes are expected to be made over the next two to three years.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its member registered dietitian nutritionists have analyzed the changes to assist consumers in understanding the new panel and what they mean for people's healthful eating plans.
"While fully understanding the Nutrition Fact Panel can be confusing, many grocery stores now have registered dietitian nutritionists on staff to help their customers understand how to read labels and select the right foods for their customers' healthy eating plans," said registered dietitian nutritionist and academy spokesperson Lori Zanini. "The academy urges the FDA to create educational campaigns that will help all Americans understand the Panel and make healthful choices when they shop."
"Our understanding of a 'serving size' has changed over the years. The new panel now lists serving size as what is typically eaten in one sitting,” Zanini said. “This new format will help by easing or even eliminating the need to multiply several servings and daily value percentages to know how much has been consumed.”
For instance, the serving size on a 12-ounce beverage will now be listed as one serving, since a person typically drinks the whole amount at one time. "People should also know that the serving size does not necessarily reflect the recommended portion size. The MyPlate guidelines are a great resource for understanding proper portion sizes," Zanini said.
Nutrients and Ingredients
Several changes to the label have been made to better reflect people's adequate, under- or over-consumption of vitamins, nutrients and ingredients:
- Vitamin A and C will no longer be listed on the label because, in general, Americans do not have difficulty getting the recommended amounts of these vitamins.
- Vitamin D and potassium will now be listed, since they are two key nutrients Americans need for bone and heart health, respectively. "Many people do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts," Zanini said.
- The 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for a reduction in the amount of added sugars Americans consume. "To provide a better understanding of naturally occurring versus sugars that are added to a product, Added Sugars will now be listed as an indented sub-item under Total Sugars," Zanini said.
Percent of Daily Values
"The percent Daily Values (DV) help evaluate how a particular food fits into a person's daily meal plan," Zanini said. With the newly adjusted serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts Panel, percent Daily Values will be easier to calculate:
- Daily Values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5 percent DV of sodium provides 5 percent of the total sodium that the person should eat each day.
- Percent DV are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack.
- Aim for high DVs (20 percent or more) in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and potassium and low (5 percent or less) in added sugars and sodium.
- Following the Dietary Guidelines, the updated percent Daily Value for added sugar is based on the recommendation that daily intake of calories from added sugar not exceed 10 percent of total calories.
"We applaud the FDA and are thrilled that the new panel largely aligns with recommendations the Academy submitted to the FDA to help everyone make more informed and nutritious decisions when choosing foods to fit their lifestyles and needs," Zanini said. "The new panel better reflects serving size, nutrients and ingredients that people should focus on, and it updates current percent of Daily Values."
Bruner said GMA “shares FDA’s commitment to improving nutrition labeling regulations and it commends the agency’s significant investment of time and resources to update this important tool for consumers.
“Food and beverage manufacturers have responded by creating more than 30,000 healthier product choices since 2002,” he noted, “and by providing tools like Facts Up Front front-of-pack labels and our SmartLabel ingredient information initiative.”