By Hope Williams
Ministry Medical Group
In the first major overhaul of the Nutrition Facts Panel since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced changes that will be made to the Panel over the next few 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.
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.
The new panel better reflects serving size, nutrients and ingredients that people should focus on, and it updates current percent of daily values.
Here are some of the highlights of the new Panel:
The 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. 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.
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 and many people do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts.
• The 2015-2020 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.
Percent of Daily Values
The percent Daily Values help evaluate how a particular food fits into a person’s daily meal plan. With the newly adjusted serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts Panel, percent DV 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.
While fully understanding the Nutrition Fact Panel can be confusing, many grocery stores now have information to understand how to read labels and select the right foods.
To learn more about the Nutrition Facts Panel, visit www.eatright.org.
Hope Williams is a Registered Dietitian and Health Coach with Ministry Medical Group in Rhinelander.