The White House and the Food and Drug Administration have announced their plan today to update the nutrition facts label on food packages, a move that is being heralded and praised by nutrition experts and enthusiasts alike.
Proposed changes include:
- Calories displayed more prominently. Congress and the FDA are pushing for a larger, bolded font for calories and all parts of the label that affect obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
- Serving Size. Have you ever noticed a bottle of soda actually contains 2.5 servings, while the average American drinks the whole thing in one sitting? Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert, thinks this means we are all in for a big reality check. The new label will change the serving size from what we should eat to what people actually consume.
- Detailed sugar labeling. The improved labels will have a new line for “added sugars,” or sugars not occurring naturally and have been including only after chemical processing (think naturally-occurring lactose in yogurt vs. added aspartame in a Yoplait). What does Hartley have to say about that? “Finally.”
- Calories from fat is removed. This factor only added more confusion than information. Plus, it’s the type of fat that’s more important anyway.
- Detailed vitamin listing. New labels will highlight nutrients that Americans are chronically deficient of, like potassium and vitamin D.
FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said the new label will include “the latest in nutrition science, as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases of Americans.”
This, combined with news late last year that the FDA will move to ban trans fat and the Affordable Care Act’s requirement of published calories on restaurant menus shows that the government may finally be taking the health epidemic of our citizens seriously. This is very good news and work in the right direction.