Have you ever wondered why the food you buy has a label on it? I know what your thinking, knowledge is power. Knowing what is in your food allows you to make good decisions when it comes to fueling your system. Now that the obvious answer is out of the way, the journey of how food labeling got started is really interesting. So sit back, grab your water and let's take a stroll down history lane.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you the 12th President of our great country, President Zachary Taylor. On July 4,1850 while at a fundraising event at the Washington Monument, which was then under construction, President Zachary Taylor over indulged himself on raw fruit and iced milk. Within the next few days the President became severely ill with an unknown digestive ailment. His Doctor diagnosed him with Cholera Morbus, essentially diarrhea and dysentery that took his life on July 9, 1850. When President Lincoln took office he started the United States Department of Agriculture that led to the creation of strict guidelines for food handling and processing. It took 128 years to go by before recognizable nutritional facts panel would be mandated on all food products. In 1966 the USDA started mandating that any products participating in interstate commerce must list ingredients on the label. This came when consumers started demanding more accurate production information. It took 7 years before consumers had their voices heard at the highest court. In 1973 the issue of false health claims was ruled on. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled nutrition facts as mandatory on all foods boasting any health benefits. This means that if any company was stating that their products were: fat free, low fat, reduced cholesterol or heart healthy, now had to prove that through the labeling process. Additionally, any food that made any claims about preventing or curing a specific disease were actually considered an illegal drug. The next massive movement in Nutritional Labeling came in 1990 when the FDA, through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, mandated that all food companies were required to make consistent claims and include a detailed, standardized nutrition facts panel on all products intended to be sold. This label is the familiar black-and-white table, iconic on the food you currently have in your home.
Let's all get into 2020 (I know.. it has been a long journey) The new changes that changed as of 2020 only apply to any manufacturer that is making more than 10 million dollars or more. At this time you will be seeing updated labels on most of your common food through your food store. As of January of 2021 ANY food manufacturer under 10 million dollars will be in compliance as well. A lot of people are asking what they should expect when they engage their label reading skills. At this time the FDA has made 6 major changes to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. Following I will break down items that are new that you should be looking for.
The first being Calories from Fats: This is no longer required OR allowed.
Added Sugars: There are a few changes within this area. The wording will change to ' Total Sugars' and gram (g) amounts for 'Added sugars' . Daily Value (DV) delaration for Added Sugars will need to be listed. A huge change and recognition of negative foods not previously listed is; Maltodextrin in now a recognized sugar under these new FDA guidelines.
Dietary Fiber: Now required is one indent under Total Carbohydrates. FOS which is one of many prebiotics is no longer being considered a or counted as a dietary fiber. The FDA has now limited dietary fibers to ONLY the following: beta-gluten, psyllium husk, cellulose, griar gum, pectin, locust bean gum or HPMC.
New Daily Values: The FDA has updated the Daily Values (DV) also, some measurement changes have been made as well. You will no longer see Vitamin A,C or E measured in IUs, now measured in mcg Rae or mcg and mg. Choline now has a dv . Vitamin D and Potassium will be added. It was shown that a majority of the population no longer has Vitamin A,C or E deficiencies, therefore not needed on the labels for daily health benefit information.
Calories: Any declaration of Calories needs to be 2 font sizes than previous printed. This measurement is with any and all other line items. In the past there may have been a Supplement Fact label that this would not apply to.
Footnote Reference Values: Previously, a Footnote Table was required in the Nutrition Facts box, listing the reference values for certain nutrients for 2,00 or 2,500 calorie diets This is no longer required and can be removed.
These changes have been made by copious amounts of evidence bolstering our understanding of nutrition, the new labels reflect that. As a side note, fresh fruits and vegetables aren't required to carry a label-so some of your best choices in your food market will still be label free. Something to remember though in this instance, make sure you are buying fresh fruit and veggies within a region that has been proven to be safe. Below I have posted a rough idea of what the label changes will look like compared to the past ones you have been reading.