Everything You Need to Know About the New Nutrition Labels

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

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