Why your food labels are getting a makeover

Posted at 12:07 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 12:07:29-04

The labels on the food you buy are going to look a lot different in the next two to three years, and the government hopes the change will help you make healthier decisions.

This FDA-approved revamp that will be announced today will make it easier for you to see how many calories and added sugar are in the food you are buying. The labels should also make it clearer what a serving size is and will define “serving size” to fit better with the amount a person currently eats. The nutrition labels haven’t changed significantly in two decades.

Nutrients will also get a makeover. The new labels will prioritize what Americans need more of, such as potassium and Vitamin D. Studies show Americans don’t get enough of either in their diet. Products will also have to say how much calcium and iron are in, but Vitamins C and A are out.

Most food makers have two years to add the new labels to their products. Smaller manufacturers, those that have less than $10 million in sales, get an extra year to update their labels.

The majority of Americans look at labels when they shop. According to government research, about 77% of U.S. adults say they do.

The Food and Drug Administration said the label change is a significant move. With more than two-thirds of adults considered overweight or obese, the ease of access to nutrition information could help.

“The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in a statement today. Making better choices is “one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”