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Front Faced Food Labels

On Monday of this week, a change of position was announced for food labels.  As most of you are aware, food labels are currently on the side or back of most packaging; this new proposal will mandate that all labels will move to the front of packaged and canned foods and will appear in the next couple of months through the end of the year.  In addition to a position change for food labels, there will also be nutrition key labels that will display the calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars per serving in each product. 

As a dietitian, I am thrilled to see that the nation is taking a stance and validating how busy the consumer is.  My hope is that by adding this information on the front of products, it will be easier for people to pick healthier options.  Of course it is always healthiest to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and most of these items will not be included with the new packaging, but it is unrealistic to think that the average American does zero shopping in the aisles. 

With the change of the labels it is important for everyone to truly understand how to read the labels.  Keep in mind when reading all food labels it is imperative to know the serving size. Each product has a specific serving size that each nutrient is based off and no two food items have the same serving size.  For example upon first look Gatorade doesn't look so bad at 50 calories.  When you examine it more closely this 50 calories is per 8 ounces and in a 32 ounce bottle there are four servings moving that 50 calories to 200 if you drink the entire container.  A misunderstanding like this every day will add on .3 pounds a week and 15 pounds in a year.

The nutrition key labels are an exciting addition to labels but it will be very important for people to know what they are looking for, otherwise they could be a waste of a time consuming change.  A low sodium item would be anything that is less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.  Newest goals recommend eating less than 7% of saturated fat in your diet. This would be 15 grams of saturated fat a day for a 2000 calorie diet and I can tell you based on the example that was posted on USA Today, 450 calories per serving is not the healthiest choice.

Take the time to learn more about how to read food labels, and nutrition key labels.  Get familiar with your grocery stores as many have their own initiatives to assist with healthy choices. Many dietitians also provide grocery tours, a wonderful way to learn all the ins and outs of healthy grocery tours.

I am looking forward to the changes. What about you?  Good luck and be well.
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