The United States Food and Drug Administration updated the nutrition labels of all packaged products in 2020, the first update of its kind in a 20-year period, as Healthline notes.
In addition to including an aesthetic change, this update introduces renewed information in all previously existing categories, but it also introduces new categories that producers must introduce on the labels of their respective products.
New categories included in nutrition labels
One of the most notorious and important changes within the update of nutritional labels is the inclusion of new informative categories that provide data on elements contained in food that were previously not taken into account. Two of these new categories are:
After 20 years, the nutrition label update is a breakthrough from the FDA. Photo: Shutterstock
Information regarding added sugars is now required to be displayed on the label. Previously, labels only indicated the total amount of sugar in a product, without distinguishing between added sugars and natural sugars.
The amount of added sugar includes all sugar added during the processing of the product, including ingredients such as honey, brown sugar, malt syrup, and others.
This is important because there is research to suggest that the absorption of added sugars can increase the risk of different health conditions, such as type II diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and obesity.
Two new micronutrients have been added to nutrition labels, vitamin D and potassium. Vitamin D has been associated with good bone health, optimizing the immune system, decreasing inflammation, and other health benefits.
Considering that the primary source of vitamin D is the sun’s rays, and that it is found in a relatively small number of food sources, vitamin D deficiency is a more or less common situation in everyday life.
For its part, potassium is another essential nutrient as it is necessary for the correct regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
In the United States, it is estimated that only 3% of adults and 10% of children under the age of 5 reach the minimum intake of potassium that is needed daily, which is why the inclusion of this mineral on the labels enjoys of high importance at the nutritional level.
Regarding aesthetic changes, the new labels present the information about the portions and the calories of the food in larger fonts and marked in bold, which contributes to its visibility.
The update promoted by the FDA could facilitate a renewed vision of the contents present in the products that Americans consume and in their nutrition, and a deeper vision by including information that was not previously present on the labels.
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