The FDA has released a new layout for nutritional information on packaged foods.
The changes reflect improved understanding of dietary effects on health. Of particular interest is a reduced focus on fat and a new focus on the quantity of added sugars in foods.
The new nutritional labelling has been simplified and creates space for the calorie content of foods to be displayed in a larger font. The line listing ‘calories from fat’ has been removed with the FDA stating that “research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount”. The nutritional labelling will continue to list trans fats, which is a feature that UK food labels lack.
A brand new line has been added to show the amount of ‘added sugars’ which will help consumers to see how much foods have been deliberately sweetened in production. One possible outcome of this change is that food companies may switch to using more artificial sweeteners in their foods. A trend which has been present for a number of years in both the US and the UK.
Cholesterol content in food has not been removed from the labels despite up-to-date research showing that a high cholesterol intake from food is not linked with health risks.
The other main change in the labelling is a change to the nutrients that are listed. In the original label, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron were listed. On the new labelling, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium will be listed.
The labelling will not list which foods have been artificially fortified with vitamins and minerals. It is worth being aware that researchers are not yet certain how effective fortification and supplementation of vitamins and minerals are compared with the nutrients naturally found in foods.
The new changes will be affect most foods from 26 July, 2018. Smaller businesses will have an extra year to meet the new labelling requirements.
The new labelling represents a slight improvement and it will be interesting to monitor whether it helps US consumers to make improved food choices.

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