For the first time in more than 20 years, the familiar FDA-required nutrition facts are getting
a major overhaul. Here’s what you need to know—and why it matters.
cereal box
Illustration By Mikey Burton
| Credit: Illustration By Mikey Burton

The new labels  began appearing  on some products  last summer. Look  out for them!

Serving Sizes Get Real

Raise your hand if you've ever  polished off a 16-ounce bottle of pop  before noticing it was actually two  servings, according to the label.  Now the serving size for many items,  including that soda, will be much  more in line with what people  actually eat. (Not because the FDA  wants you to eat more—they're  simply trying to reflect reality.)  Look for changes on, among others,  cereal, bagels and (sob) ice cream.

Calorie Counts are Bigger  and Bolder 

The first thing  most people check is about to get  easier to find. This number is really  important in balancing your diet,  so it's getting top billing.

Added Sugars Make Their  Debut 

Not all sugars are created  equal. Some products have naturally  occurring sugar (like lactose in  yogurt), worthwhile for the food's  benefits. Others have it dumped  in during processing (corn syrup,  cane sugar, etc.). Now you can  especially look out for bucket loads  of the added stuff.

Take It or Leave It,  Vitamins A and C 

Most  Americans get enough of these  two, so companies don't have to list  them anymore. (Though they still  can if they want to.) However, most  people need more vitamin D (for  healthy bones) and potassium (for  regulating blood pressure), so they'll  be mandatory on the new label.

Source: Kris Sollid, Rd and Senior Director of Nutrition Communications For The International Food Information Council