New food labels may help consumers shop smarter

It's easy to sometimes feel a little lost at the grocery store. You want to shop smarter and buy better-for-you foods, but many of us can't really make sense of nutritional labels.

"So a lot of people don't realize how many calories they're actually eating,” says WellStar Atlanta Medical Center registered dietitian Kristen Smith. “And it adds up more than they realize."

That’s why Smith thinks the first new nutritional labels in 20 years may make doing the "food math" a little easier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants food manufacturers to emphasize certain information in the “Nutritional Facts” box on processed foods.

"So, the calories will be bolder, and the serving size will be bolder,” Smith says. “The calories will take up nearly a whole line."

And the serving sizes will be tweaked to reflect how much we're actually eating.

So, if you have a bag of chips, the calorie count will include not just one serving of chips, but how many calories are in the whole bag.

Right now, the total amount of sugars is listed on the label. 

But the new labels will list added sugars separately.  Added sugar is the sugar food companies add to their products.

The new labels will begin appearing on processed foods in July of 2018.

Smith says the labels may help consumers make more informed decisions about what they're eating and drinking.

"But they still have to put together a balanced diet,” Smith says. “And you still really need to think about foods that may not have a food label like fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. And those need to be part of their balanced diet also."