Happy 20th Birthday Nutrition Facts Label
By Howard Seltzer, Howard Seltzer, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Ever check out the label on food packages when you’re at the store? Perhaps you do it because for you food safety means, at least in part, limiting calories or sodium or fat. Or maybe you do it because you want to make healthy food choices for your family. Whatever the reason, you are able to do it thanks to the Nutrition Facts label regulation of 1993.
For the last 20 years, the FDA rules for the Nutrition Facts label have made it easier for consumers to compare products and make better informed choices. And the number of consumers who say they utilize the labels continues to grow, with an increase from 44 to 54 percent between 2002 and 2008. If you’re one of them, here are a few tips to help you use the labels more effectively.
- Check the serving size and number of servings. All Nutrition Facts labels are based on one serving but many packages contain more. So, if you eat two servings, the calories, fat and nutrients are doubled.
- Calories count, so pay attention to the amount. Low-fat or fat-free doesn’t necessarily mean calorie-free.
- Know your fats and reduce sodium for your health. Foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol help reduce the risk of heart disease. Limiting sodium helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
- Learn which carbohydrates can be healthy. Healthy sources like fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve digestive functioning. Not so healthy sources, like sugars, add calories but not health-promoting nutrients.
- Know your nutrients. Foods rich in nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C help promote good health and may help protect against disease.
- Use the Percent Daily Values (%DV). The %DV at the bottom of the label helps achieve a balanced diet. The %DV is based on a 2000-calorie diet, so if you are especially active physically or your physical activity is limited you may need more or less.
For more information:
As always, If you have food safety questions, please feel free to contact us at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free) or online at AskKaren.gov (English or Spanish)
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