New nutrition labels will help consumers watch their sugar intake from packaged foods. Although the process will take up to two years in order to give food manufacturers time to repackage their products, it is a good step in looking at nutrition on a more realistic level.
The nutrition labels will announce added sugars to the natural sugar content of different foods. Serving sizes will also reflect amounts that are consumed on average, rather than reflect what nutritionists would consider healthy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that portion size needs to be stated by both single serving size and portion size, since many people eat entire packages of chips, cookies and other snack foods.
Pamela Bailey, the president of Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), says that grocers and producers of foods want to ease the confusion in nutrition labels and inform the public about the nutritional content of packaged foods. The new nutritional labels will be streamlined and will contain the same categories as before, but under carbohydrates, added sugars will be listed. Another possible category would be to list amounts of cholesterol, fats and sugars that are over the healthy limit. There could also be a get-enough section to encourage consumption of certain nutrients.
Michelle Obama made the announcement about the nutritional labels on Tuesday, taking another step forward in adopting healthy nutritional practices, which comes from her Let’s Move initiative to fight childhood obesity. From home gardening to being alert about the foods we consume, Obama is on the nutrition labels wagon. The hope is that the new labeling will encourage food producers to moderate sugars and fats in their recipes.
Not only will the new nutrition labels help consumers watch their sugar intake, but calories per serving will be bolded in addition to showing the added sugars. The proposed regulation by the FDA requires manufacturers to report how much high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners they add to their products.
For those packaged and bottled food products that consumers typically consume in one sitting, they will be labeled as one serving, rather than more than one serving. The focus of the new requirements appears to be on realistic food intake and on informing consumers of the right way to choose their foods.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg is concerned that the proposed Nutrition Facts labels are relevant to new scientific discoveries about nutrition. She states that the “connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases [is] impacting millions of Americans.”
For older Americans, the nutrition labels are an invaluable means of maintaining a healthier diet, as many illnesses commence with the middle-aged population. Physicians will be able to educate their patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity to read nutrition labels on packaged and bottled foods.
The American Heart Association would prefer the nutrition labels include lower sodium amounts than are currently listed. They would like to see the recommended intake lowered to 1,500 milligrams, which would be beneficial for the majority of Americans who need to lower blood pressure or reduce heart risks.
For now, the new nutrition labels will help consumers watch their sugar intake. The FDA is on the right track to educating consumers on how to adopt a healthier diet.
By Lisa M Pickering