It’s hard to buy packaged foods at the store without glancing at the black and white box full of numbers and percentages. But do we really digest the info?
The nutrition label as we know it was introduced in the early 1990s, and it really hasn’t been updated since then, despite all the advances that have occurred in nutrition science and recommendations. However, a few weeks ago, the FDA released a proposal for a new label in the hope of making the food label more relevant, current, and useful to consumers.
“To help address obesity, one of the most important public health problems facing our country, the proposed label would drive attention to calories and serving sizes,” says Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. Here are some of the specific changes:
- The calorie content will be larger and bolder.
- Serving sizes will be more realistic. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda will be considered one serving (instead of two) since most people drink that amount in one sitting.
- The new label will include added sugars.
- While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Certain “Daily Values” for a variety of nutrients would be revised; these include sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D.
In helping unveil the new label, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family… So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
The FDA will be taking public comments about the proposed changes to the label through the end of May before making a final decision. Food manufacturers will have two years to adjust the new label to accommodate any changes that are officially adopted.
Image and information from FDA press release.