Nutrition Labels Are Getting A Makeover

March 3, 2014   27 Comments

How often do you think you need a makeover? How about every 20 years?

New Nutrition Label

If that seems too long, well I agree with you. I need someone with a stylish eye to help me with my look every five years or so because I keep aging (no matter how hard I try – I can’t seem to stop it).

The FDA has decided after 20 years that the nutrition label needs a redo. Twenty years ago I bet you had a cassette player in your car. Government agencies move at a snails pace but I should stop complaining and start celebrating.

So after 20 years here it is (from

Quite a few of you are wondering what is different. I was hoping for some color like I have seen in other countries. Red for “watch out – this will kill you”, yellow for “slow down – don’t eat it too fast” and green for “eat as much as you want”.

I don’t think my system is going to get implemented any time soon so let’s review this label. Right away, you have to notice the number of servings. This has been one of my biggest complaints about food labeling. You think the food you are consuming has 100 calories until you eat the whole thing and find out there was 4 servings per container – whoops!

They are also updating the serving size to reflect what people actually eat. How funny is that? I would expect the serving size of a can of soup to change to one instead of two (no one eats half a can of soup) after this change goes into effect.

The calories are now large, which is nice. The change that I adore is the “added sugars”. Do you know how I complain about high sugar yogurt? Well, now Yoplait can’t hide behind lactose already being a component in milk. They are going to have to tell us that they added 20 grams of sugar to their yogurt (four teaspoons!).

I like the new label and I am planning to do something I have never done.

The FDA has opened a 90-day comment period, during which experts and members of the public can provide input on the proposed rules.

Since I am a member of the public, I am going to comment on the changes. I tried on Friday and I couldn’t figure out how to do it. After about 30 minutes, I posed as a member of the media and called Theresa Eisenmann of the FDA and she picked up the phone (to my surprise).

She explained that comments started on Monday (today) and I could comment by going here: and searching for:

Nutrition Facts label: FDA-2012-N-1210
Changes in Serving Size: FDA-2004-N-0258

To comment by mail, send written comments to:
Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration, Room 1061
5630 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852
Make sure that the docket number is written at the top of each page of your comment.

Why take time to comment? Once you know how to do it - it shouldn’t take long and also if consumers don’t comment who do you think is going to get a seat at the table? I’m looking at you, ConAgra.

From the site:

Public participation matters. Democratic, legal, and management principles justify why public comments make a difference in regulatory policy. Public participation is an essential function of good governance. Participation enhances the quality of law and its realization through regulations (e.g. rules).

Tell them what you think and we can hope that the changes will help Americans make better choices.

What do you think of the new nutrition label?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 27 )

I wish the food's glycemic index would be added to the nutrition label! I make a yummy snack using rice krispies, peanut butter and honey. Not really high in calories and very satisfying. Then I thought to look up the glycemic index of the rice more of that snack!! :(

I have always wondered about the unrealistic serving sizes. I am glad they are changing them to be more in line with what people actually eat. I am thrilled that the added sugar is going to be on the label. From what I've been reading lately, that's the real culprit in our diets.

I also agree with making serving sizes realistic . At my grocery store all baking (buns , wraps, muffins) have a serving size as half. I bet a lot of people don't notice. The other thing that really bothers me is that when I weigh the food item instead of getting out my cups the label is often FAR off. My walmart muesli said I could eat a cup for 180 calories. That's a bargain, because that would really fill you up. I ate a lot for a while and gained weight. After, when I weighed it that amount if grams was less than 1/2 a cup. It was too good to be true, because it wasn't true. Will this help fix this- I hope so .

Tried to leave a comment using the link you provide,did not work. Message saying comments closed. I love the new labels, it is about time, whey did it take twenty years?

I agree with the person who suggested that they add the glycemic index. It would sure be helpful for diabetics.

I also tried to leave a comment using the link you provided and it said that comments were closed.

I really hope Canada follows suit. I bought a packaged soup at Costco. I had started doing Weight Watchers and when I was figuring the points the serving was for 1/4 cup! Who eats a 1/4 cup of soup! For one cup the soup would of been 17 points! Unreal?!?! The suggestion of glycemic index added to the labels would be very helpful for the ever growing epidemic of diabetes.

I would love to see percentage values as well. For example, fat makes up 25% of this food's weight. Not a percentage of daily recommended allowances! That way I could compare different foods. "Oh, wow, one in every 4 bites of that sausage is fat!" (When I see it has 25% fat, for example.). And then I'd be able to see at a glance what contains unreasonable (unhealthy) amounts of sugar (more than 15% perhaps) or fat (more than 5%, eat a little, more than 10%, stay away!)

The improvement of bolder print is nice. I'm in my 60's and I remember when portion sizes WERE THAT small and deemed normal too. For example hamburgers were 6 or 8 to a pound! Yes they were! Because they were PART of a meal, not the whole meal. There was a huge fanfare when McD advertised QUARTER-POUNDERS! I know people today that gorge on half-pounders or more, which is part of our obesity epidemic, in my opinion. Another item I can think of off the top of my head is ice cream cones, they used to be like today's junior cone. I'm really into reasonable serving sizes as you can tell. In my experience I've managed 2 or more servings from a can of soup, mainly because its served with a salad or sandwich. Canned soup is a course not a meal in our family. But, whatever one's eating habits are or how much of one food one eats it IS an improvement to have larger print and ''added sugar'' info. I'm looking forward to more transparency in labeling ingredients someday too.

The federal government is closed today in DC for snow and ice. My guess is that means the regulation won't come off "preview" until they re-open, probably tomorrow. I plan to comment as well, to applaud including added sugar.

And whether you agree with eating them or not, who seriously eats only one Pop Tart? That's the one that's always been a head scratcher.

While I think it is a good idea to show the actual calories for what an average person eats, we use that label as a way to know what the "approved serving size" is. So, for people who are unaware that the "serving" being shown is no longer how much it is recommended you eat, it may very well cause them to eat more than they would have with the old label. I think there should be a line saying, "Recommended serving size."

@Silva, 25% fat doesn't mean that 1 in 4 bites is fat. It means that a serving provides 25% of your daily fat allowance by FDA standards. I could go on a whole, long, rant about that (summary: fat doesn't make you fat, can actually be quite healthy, and you have to look at what kinds of fat there are), but I'll leave it at my little summary. :)

Whoops! Already can see I read it wrong. >.< Though I stick with fat isn't the devil. :) But you can already do that easily, since it says how many grams of each category there are, plus how many are in a serving. In the example above, it's 8g out of 55.

The only thing that has me concerned is that people are not learning what a serving size should be. I guess not everyone thinks that way and they are looking at what the general public thinks and actually eats, not what they could learn from the label.

A "real" serving size can be surprising and eye-opening, but maybe people aren't using the nutrition facts for that like I do.

Lisa; I am in Canada-I wonder if we will follow with the new labels. Hope so. We love you up here-your advise,info, and recipes. I'm waiting for my book! Thank you for all you do. Catie

Not overly impressed with the changes. As you said, at least they now have "added sugars." Everyone's serving size is different, teens, adults, male/female, elderly. Maybe they made them more in line with reality.

I think most people want to know if there are GMO products in the food and what the place of origin is. Distributed in the US does not cut it for me.

I am so sorry you all were unable to comment. I will be sure to let you know how/when I figure out how to do it. argh!

I love the new labels to a point. After a couple of times of being fooled, I am now aware of what they call a serving size and usually don't buy the product then. This new way, if you don't want all the serving, you need just cut in half for your self. The bold print is very nice, but I like the color idea as well. The other thing that has always been a mystery to me is this: always at the bottom of the label it always says about when you consume 2,000 calories a day, that's how much of the nutrients you are getting. Does this mean you have to consume 2000 calories to get that much protein, etc. out of a serving? Please, someone help me to understand this concept. I have tried to get an explanation on the net, but to no avail.

I too have been super frustrated with nutrition labels for years so YAY for change!!! My biggest complaint is when serving size doesnt match the servings per container.

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