Grocery shopping is going to look a little different. The Food and Drug Association made changes to nutrition labels in May. The old design was more than twenty years old. The new label reflects updated nutrition information and has a sleeker appearance. While at first glance the label looks more or less the same, there are plenty of changes that consumers can use to shop smarter and eat healthier. Manufacturers have until July 26, 2018 to make the changes.

So what exactly is changing?

The serving size will be larger and in bold letters. Before, people could be deceived into thinking that the nutrition information on the label applied to the whole package or container. After the changes go into effect, it’ll be clearer to consumers how large a serving is. Some serving sizes are decreasing while others are increasing as they are based on what an average American consumes. For example, the serving size of ice cream is increasing while a serving of yogurt is decreasing.

Calorie count will also be bigger and bolder but ‘calories from fat’ is being removed. Type of fat has proven to be more important. While the FDA has deemed trans-fat unhealthy and it’s being reduced in food, the amount in food is still required on the label.

‘Added sugars’ has been added to the label. This is to increase awareness of how much added sugar is in many foods and drinks. According to the FDA, about 13% of an American’s caloric intake is from added sugars. Drawing attention to the amount of added sugar in foods could reduce people’s consumption.

At the bottom of the label are a few changes as well. Vitamins A and C are no longer required, while Vitamins D and Potassium are. Calcium and Iron will remain on the label. In the 1990’s, when the label was last updated, many American’s didn’t have enough Vitamin A or C in their diet. This is no longer the case. However, the CDC’s National consumption survey shows that American’s don’t get enough Vitamin D or potassium. We usually get Vitamin D from the sun and it’s important for bone health. Potassium is key to maintaining low blood pressure.

The smallest change (literally) is the fine print, or foot note under the majority of the information. The words describe Daily Value and currently read, “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher of lower depending on your calorie needs.” After the changes are implemented the footnote will be clearer and say, “The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

These changes don’t technically have to happen for a few years but shoppers will likely start to see the new labels before then.  All the little alterations make nutrition info easy to read and more relevant to shoppers. Knowing how to read a nutrition label is an important first step in heating healthy.