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New Food Labels

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled new rules for nutrition facts labels in May, and some of the changes will be especially helpful for making healthier choices to manage diabetes. This issue has been slowly rolling through administrative processes for a couple of years, but the final proposal is very much like the original ideas in spite of lobbying efforts. The deadline for food manufacturers is still two years out, but it’s worth a look to see what’s in store. Here’s a link to the FDA fact sheet.

  • One guiding objective was to reflect “how much Americans actually eat,” and this has resulted in changes to serving sizes in some cases – 12 ounces for a soft drink rather than the previous 8 ounces, for example. Also, containers which contain between one and two servings, like a 20 ounce soft drink, must be considered as one serving because such containers appear to be a single serving. Other products which “could be consumed in one sitting” (a pint of ice cream) will have to present nutrition information for both the established serving size, and for the entire container.
  • Larger serving sizes will result in a higher per-serving calorie count, and you won’t be able to miss that because the calories- per- serving is in a gigantic, bold print. The serving size is also much more prominent, bolded and in a larger font.
  • Added sugars (in grams, and as a percentage of the recommended daily limit on added sugars) will be listed under total carbohydrate. This is important not only because the current label does not list added sugars, but also because the product ingredients can list added sugars by so many different names it is almost impossible to even estimate.
  • Information on various vitamins and minerals has changed based upon updated research.

For people uninterested in nutrition these changes mean little, but for those of us committed to eating healthier (and healthier eating is essential to diabetes management) the changes will make nutrition facts labels more useful and, most importantly, easier to understand.

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