The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. is considering updating nutrition facts on labels of food products. Their intent is to accurately reflect the current health concerns and eating habits of Americans. As a result, there will be more focus on calories and sugar content, among other changes.
Nutrition labeling was put on products twenty years ago and over these past two decades science and the recommendations in regards to the labeling of foods has seen a change. Now, the revisions, currently in the proposed stage and most likely to go through, will consider the link between chronic diseases and diet, most importantly obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
The makeover in the labels was first revealed last month, but formally proposed Thursday morning. First Lady Michelle Obama, always an advocate for better health, said that this change of labels serves great benefit to families across the U.S.
In a news release the First Lady said now, an individual can enter a grocery story, take a product off the shelf, and make a clear judgement of whether the item is beneficial to the family; she called it a “big deal.”
Michael Taylor, the deputy commissioner for FDA’s foods and veterinary medicine, points out at a Thursday news conference the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and how the current nutrition labels will be in accordance with this. Their goal, to provide support for consumers in helping them decide healthier diets.
One of the biggest concerns that the FDA was intent on responding to is obesity. In order to battle this health problem, serving sizes and calorie content will be more prominent on labels. The serving sizes were introduced in 1994, but according to Taylor, the amount and what Americans drink and eat has changed dramatically. Most importantly, nutrition and calorie information would be shown for the whole package of a product on the label if it can be consumed within a single sitting.
Another highlight would be to help people distinguish between natural sugars in fruits and any added sugars, the latter being a new feature. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010 points out how Americans intake sugar at too high of a level and thus, need to reduce the consumption.
Furthermore, an important addition to the new labels would be vitamin D and potassium, both of which are now known to help fight bone loss and high blood pressure. Vitamins C and A are now an option to be included on a label, but no longer mandatory for food makers to add.
One change in science is the fact that the type of fat is actually more important to know than the amount of fat. As a result, calories from fat will be taken off the new labels, while total fat, trans fat, and saturated fat would remain.
Though not confirmed, Taylor is confident their changing of the information on nutrition labels will be supported by the food industry. Considering how increasingly concerned Americans are in terms of calories, trans fat intake, sugar content, and other health concerns the labels will put more focus on, the FDA strongly believes this is a win-win proposal.
By Kollin Lore