FDA Gives Nutrition Labels A Face-lift

U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to change nutrition labels to reflect actual serving sizes

Published on: Feb 28, 2014

Get ready for the first big "nutrition facts" face-lift in nearly 20 years – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it is proposing label updates that would alter serving sizes to align with how much people really eat.

The proposed label would also feature a new design to highlight calories and serving sizes on the label, FDA says.

When the labels were first created in 1993, the standards used to determine serving sizes were based primarily on surveys of food consumption conducted in 1977-1978 and 1987-1988. The label has not changed significantly since 2006, when information on trans fat was included.

"We now have much more recent food consumption data, and it's showing that some serving sizes on food labels should be changed," says Mary Poos, Ph.D., deputy director of FDA's Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements. For example, serving sizes for large muffins may change. People generally consume an entire muffin, and not a half or a third.

INFO EDITS: U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to change nutrition labels to reflect actual serving sizes
INFO EDITS: U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to change nutrition labels to reflect actual serving sizes

Related: FDA Proposes Eliminating Trans Fat in Processed Foods

Another reason for the change is that consumers have come to rely on information gleaned from the labels – and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says they need to stay relevant and focused on science.

"The FDA's newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans," Hamburg noted in a press statement.

FDAs new design would highlight calories and serving sizes on nutrition labels.
FDA's new design would highlight calories and serving sizes on nutrition labels.

Food interest group the Grocery Manufacturers Association responded favorably to the label proposal; President Pamela Bailey in a statement Thursday that the changes underscored a commitment to science.

"It is critical that any changes are based on the most current and reliable science," she said. "Equally as important is ensuring that any changes ultimately serve to inform, and not confuse, consumers."

7 key changes
Require information about the amount of "added sugars" in a food product.
Labels will include "added sugars" to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.