Changes on the way to the Nutrition Facts Label

Emma Falconer BIDMC Dietetic Intern

JUNE 16, 2016

nutrition label

You probably know there's added sugar in candy, soda and ice cream. But what about ketchup? Yogurt? Canned vegetables? It might come as a surprise, but a recent study found that over 60 percent of packaged food and drink items contain added sugar. Scary, right? That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is creating a new nutrition facts label — to make it easier to understand exactly how much added sugar is in your favorite foods.

What are Added Sugars?

The FDA defines added sugars as “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such.” These added sugars can come from syrups, honey, or concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. Look at soda, for example. The current FDA daily value for added sugar is set at 50 grams, which is about 12 teaspoons. A 16 oz bottle of soda contains 55 grams of added sugar, considered 110% of the daily value for sugar!

Besides sweetened beverages, a few other major sources of added sugar are processed snacks, cereals and sweets. However, there’s also added sugar in unexpected places like sauces, dairy products, condiments and canned foods.

Why Make a New Label?

The American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization all agree that added sugars can be harmful to public health. Consuming excessive sugar can lead to increased risk of Obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Existing nutrition facts labels already show the amount of total sugars in packaged foods. The new labels will empower consumers to make healthier choices by differentiating between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally.

How will it Work?

This new label will feature a refreshed design, easier to understand nutrition information and updated serving sizes. However, it won’t appear on packaged food items until July 2018. If you’re looking to cut down on added sugars before the new labeling goes into effect, make sure to read through a product’s ingredient list. If you see things like high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, honey, corn syrup, agave, beet sugar, cane juice, sorbitol, glucose, mannitol and sucrose, try to stay away. Cutting down on packaged items and eating more fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your health and well-being.

For more information, visit the FDA’s website.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.