Nutrition Labels Could Get a Makeover
To help American consumers make healthier eating choices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a Nutrition Facts label update in February 2014.
The first update in 20 years, the proposed labels would showcase several key changes to design and content. Most noticeably, a larger, bolder font would be used to list calories and serving sizes, a nod to health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. (See the proposed updated label, at left)
More proposed edits to the required nutrition and serving-size information on food labels include:
Identifying Added Sugars:
- Labels would be required to specify the grams of added sugars in food or beverage products, such as corn sweeteners or cane sugar that load on carbs and calories and have little to no nutritional value. Added sugars would be a separate listing from sugars, which would detail sugars naturally found in foods such as fruits and dairy products.
- Packaged foods and drinks normally consumed in one sitting would be labeled as one serving to minimize confusion. For instance, under the new standards, what would have been listed as 2 servings of 200 calories each will be listed as 1 serving of 400 calories. FDA officials hope that knowing what you’re putting in your body from the start—without the hassle of measurements and calculations—will help reduce overeating and steer people toward more healthful options.
- Products that could be consumed in either one or multiple sittings (such as a pint of ice cream or bag of chips) will feature nutrition information for each scenario in two columns: “per serving” and “per package.”
Additional Nutrition Info:
- Amounts of potassium and vitamin D would be required on every label, while vitamins A and C listings would be optional.
- “Percent Daily Value” would shift to a more prominent column on the left, and the footnote would be rewritten to better explain what the percentages mean.
- In addition to daily value percentages, the quantities of vitamin D, potassium, iron, and calcium would be listed in milligrams.
- “Calories from Fat” would be removed, but the amounts of total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat would remain to put the emphasis on the types of fat consumed.
- There would be minor changes in recommended daily intake for sodium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber.