Harvard Health Letter

Coming to a shelf near you: The new Nutrition Facts labels

Most food manufacturers have until July 2018 to implement the changes.

Nutrition Facts labels on food packages made headlines when the FDA ordered a makeover for them in May of this year. But will the big to-do translate to big changes in the way you make food choices? "I'm hopeful it will," says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "It will be great if the labels can get people to look at the numbers and think more about their health."

Grabbing your attention

The refreshed design gives calories and servings per container a starring role, in larger, bolder type. Serving sizes will also be highlighted, and changed to reflect the amounts of food people actually eat. "For example, instead of a soda serving being 8 ounces, it will be 12. Instead of an ice cream serving being half a cup, it will be 2/3 of a cup. When people see how many calories and sugar they're really eating, they may realize that it's too much, and hold back," says McManus.

Likewise, for foods that come in larger packages that could be eaten in one sitting, manufacturers will have to use a two-column label showing calorie and nutrition information for both a single serving and the entire package.new nutrition label

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