Standardized serving sizes: Tighter regulations will make serving sizes shown on labels more realistic and consistent.
For the first time, relative terms will be defined: Until now, there have been no consistent definitions for terms such as “light,” “reduced,” “low,” and “lean.” Under the new regulations there are uniform definitions:
low fat: 3 grams or less per serving
low saturated fat: 1 gram or less per serving
low sodium: less than 140 milligrams per serving
very low sodium: less than 35 milligrams per serving
low cholesterol: less than 20 milligrams per serving
low calorie: 40 calories or less per serving
“Light” has been one of the most overused and confusing terms. In the past, “light” could mean anything from light in color, light in texture, to fewer calories or less sodium. The consumer was usually left guessing. Now, “light” can be used only on products that contain one-third fewer calories or half the fat of a similar product. “Light” can also mean that the sodium content of a food has been reduced by at least 50 percent. If it is used in any other way, the label must be more specific about what characteristic is “light,” such as the color, the flavor, the texture.
Look beyond the one-word descriptors and eye-catching advertising hype. Actually, the most meaningful parts of a food label are the ingredient list and the figures shown for calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium in a serving. Once you know what your limits are in terms of fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium, you will be in a much better position to compare products and to choose those that fit your desire to eat more healthfully.