FDA announces new food labels that have nutritional information for eating the whole package

FDA’s new nutritional labels require food packaging to say how many calories, fats, sugars and carbs are in a ‘serving’ AND the whole container

  • The new food labels will have dual columns, one will nutritional information for one serving and another for the whole packages
  • Manufacturers will also be required to include added sugars on the label
  • Rules went into effect on January 1 but companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until 2021 to comply

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced new nutritional labels, changing the way that manufacturers mark packaged foods.

New labels will be required to have dual columns, one with nutritional information for one serving and another with information for consuming the entire package.

The rules went into effect for most companies on January 1.

However, manufacturers earning less than $10 million in annual food sales have until 2021 to add the new labels.    

Manufacturers are adding side-by-side nutritional labels to their packaged foods required by the FDA: one that shows information for eating a single serving and one for eating the entire package (example above)

‘With the introduction of the new Nutrition Facts label, a variation that consumers are seeing is the dual column label for some foods that can reasonably be consumed in one meal or snack,’ said Dr Claudine Kavanaugh, Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. 

‘We know that Americans are eating differently, and the amount of calories and nutrients on the label is required to reflect what people actually eat and drink.’ 

According to a recent report from the American Heart Association, US adults consume about 300 more calories per day than they did in 1985, which has likely contributed to rising rates of obesity.

Obesity is known as a risk factor for several chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack and even certain types of cancer.

Health officials say that addressing the obesity epidemic will not only lead to better health outcomes but also reduce medical costs for individuals and the US.

In 2012, a study from Cornell University in New York found obesity accounts for about 21 percent of total US health care costs, approximately $190.2 billion per year.  

And a 2006 study found that obese people typically spent around $1,400 more on medical cost than those with normal weights.

Dr Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told ABC News he believes the new labels are a step in the right direction.

He also noted that the new labels are also required to list added sugars.

Experts say eating too much sugar has been linked to several health problems include asthma, cavities, raising levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and increasing your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. 

‘Because higher added sugar intake has been associated with a wide range of adverse health consequences, it is important to distinguish added sugars from natural sugars in a product,’ Dr Hu said. 

‘Hopefully, the information on the new label will not only help consumers make more informed decisions about their food and beverage choices, but also motivate food manufacturers to improve nutritional quality of their products,’