Why you should ignore the FDA’s useless, new nutrition labeling

On the back of every packaged food item, you’ll find the Nutrition Facts label. These labels will look slightly different by 2021.

The label on the left depicts the current label. And the label on the right shows the new-and-improved label we’ll see by 2021.

But most of the changes shouldn’t mean too much to you and me, especially since you avoid packaged foods, right?

And generally speaking, I caution you to never rely on the government ¾ or its supposed health “experts” — to help you achieve optimal health. Quite frankly, they just aren’t caught up with the science. And they never were.

Let me explain…

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) began mandating Nutrition Facts food labels on packaged food products in 1990. The labels were supposed to help consumers make informed dietary choices.

For instance, if the food label on a one-gallon jug of Hawaiian Punch showed that a single serving contained 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, most thought they had successfully reached their required amount for the day.

But not so fast…

Important changes never seem to come

The U.S. government moves at a glacial pace when it comes to updating dietary recommendations based on current science. (Actually, I just came back from a trip to the Alaska wilderness. And I’m now pretty sure glaciers actually move faster than our government…)

Nutrition Facts labels were printed on packaged foods starting in 1990. But the science dated back to 1968!

Plus, since that time, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has revised the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) of key vitamins and nutrients several times. (The IOM is the quasi-government agency charged with determining RDIs.)

So, my question becomes: Did the DVs on the Nutrition Facts label — which consumers rely on to make food choices ¾ change according to the new science and IOM recommendations?

Of course not.

So, just when you thought your Hawaiian Punch actually had 100 percent of the DV of vitamin C, one, real, up-to-date serving contained maybe 50 percent of the DV, according to the science and the IOM.

Major tipping point in 2015

In 2015, the IOM came out with some really important changes based on current science.

For one, they significantly upped the recommended intake of dietary calcium and vitamin D. And they determined that healthy fat should indeed make up a greater percentage of our overall daily calories.

So, in May 2016, the FDA announced it would require food manufactures to begin making key changes to the Nutrition Facts label.

And guess what?

Some of these changes will actually include updating the label to reflect the IOM’s sensible 2015 RDI recommendations…

But the FDA pushed back the deadline for label changing by a year. They’re now giving big manufacturers until 2020 to make the changes…and they’re giving smaller manufacturers until 2021.

Of course, by then, the science will have changed again. (Perhaps the IOM will even acknowledge the science that shows we actually need 10 times more of the RDIs to achieve optimal health.)

I can’t leave out the important fact that manufacturers will be allowed to make the changes at different rates. And some of the changes will be optional. Oh, great…

So, you really won’t be able to accurately compare products until this re-labeling undertaking is complete sometime in 2021. And even then, it may not always be completely correct…

Some meaningful improvements

Granted, there will be some helpful changes. And one of the biggest changes has to do with vitamin D.

The new label will finally express vitamin D (and vitamins A and E) according to mass in micrograms — instead of mysterious international units (IU). This brings vitamins A, D, and E in line with other nutrients already expressed by mass. How sensible!

But it’s still not good enough…

The new label will suggest 20 micrograms as the new DV of vitamin D. (That amount translates to 400 IU — and again, is still too low by at least a factor of 10, which I‘ve reported many times.) The ideal amount I recommend is 250 micrograms, or 10,000 IUs.

There are a few other meaningful changes coming to the Nutrition Facts label…


The DV of calcium will increase from 1,000 to 1,300 mg due to concerns about bone diseases. That’s about right, since with adequate levels of vitamins C and D, you get plenty of calcium from a balanced diet. And calcium supplements are downright dangerous.

Your body is also quite capable of recycling calcium stores held in rich supply in every cell in the body — particularly bone and muscle — accounting for a large part of the body’s total mass.


The DV of fat actually moves in a sensible direction from 65 to 78 grams.

So, that means your calories from fat go up from 30 percent to 35 percent — based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.

But I think you can easily increase your DV from healthy fats to 40 percent.

As I’ve often said, it’s a mistake to restrict healthy fats. And following a low-fat diet inevitably means your diet won’t contain enough protein (and instead, way too many carbs). You’ll also miss fat-soluble vitamins like D and E.


Fiber increases from 25 to 28 grams. But, as I’ve said from the beginning, fiber is complicated. Don’t up your fiber by eating five “high-fiber” granola bars every day. Just include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, you’ll have your bases covered.

Vitamin E

The old DV for vitamin E was 30 IU. But the new DV will change to 15 mg of just alpha tocopherol.

Tocopherols are a group of fat-soluble compounds with antioxidant properties. They play an important role in cell membrane stabilization.

Vitamin E has four forms of tocopherol and four forms of tocotrienol (which have been shown to have neuroprotective, lipid-lowering, and anti-cancer effects).

So, 15 mg of just one form of tocopherol just doesn’t cut it. To support your overall health — and prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s dementia in particular — you need all eight forms.

Even though I’m happy to see vitamin E now expressed by weight in milligrams, the change still fails to hit the mark.

Claims from processed foods will NEVER meet your nutritional needs

The FDA stipulates that a food product promoted as a “good source” of a nutrient must contain 10 to 20 percent of the daily value. If it has more than 20 percent, the food is considered “high” in that nutrient. And when a food has less than 5 percent of the daily value, it’s considered “low” in that nutrient.

The only good thing is, with these new DVs, it will be harder for the wrong food products to be labeled as “high” or “good” sources of nutrients.

It’s funny though. Because overall, he FDA claims the new food label will make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices.

But that’s just plain nonsense…

Because the FDA isn’t requiring the changes consumers really want and need. For example, the new label doesn’t require manufacturers to tell consumers if an item contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Plus, the label doesn’t help clarify the difference between “natural” and “organic.”

And worst of all, the DVs on the new food label won’t tell you what you need for optimal health, especially when it comes to vitamin D and vitamin E. In fact, to achieve optimal health, evidence shows you need about 10 times more than what the government recommends.

But at least some things are moving in the right direction.

In the meantime, keep things simple and stay away from processed foods as much as possible.

Avoid the center aisles of the grocery store where most packaged foods are displayed. Instead, stick to the perimeter, where they display fresh, perishable foods. Aim to get most of your daily nutrients from these fresh, whole foods that don’t require any food labels.

And keep your fingers crossed, that just like that glacier, the FDA might finally catch up with the evidence in another Ice Age.


“The Little-Known Benefits of Tocotrienols,” Life Extension Magazine


“Why the Nutrition Facts Label Can Lead You Astray,” Linus Pauling Institute (blogs.oregonstate.edu)