13 March 2014 FDA Proposes New Nutrition Facts Label
New Nutrition Facts
Old Nutrition Facts
For the first time in two decades the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to significantly update Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods that better reflect the latest scientific information, which includes the link between diet and obesity and heart disease. The proposed change would replace outdated serving sizes to make them more in line with how much people actually consume. The change would also highlight key parts of the labels, particularly calories and serving size.
“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,” said First Lady Michelle Obama says in an FDA press release. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
Other key changes to the Nutrition Facts labels are as follows, taken directly from the FDA:
- Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
- Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.
- Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
- Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
- Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
- 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.
- Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease
The last change to Nutrition Facts labels came back in 2006 when information on trans fats were required to appear on the labels.
The FDA is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days, starting February 27.
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