Nutrition Label Update: A Long Time Coming
February 28, 2014
February 28, 2014
For the first time since the nutrition label was developed twenty years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing major changes to the nutrition information listed on packaged foods and beverages. The goal is to alter serving sizes to better reflect what people actually consume and also place a greater emphasis on total calories, added sugars and certain vitamins.
This week, Michelle Obama announced the changes at a White House press conference. The First Lady described the challenge of reading current labels; “Unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope or a degree in nutrition—you were out of luck.”
The most visible difference on the new labels will be the calorie count’s font, which will be enlarged in an effort to make it clear to Americans that the total calorie count is more important in the overall scheme of things, according to nutritionists. Vitamins A and C will be optional on the new labels, and Vitamin D and potassium amounts will be included (along with the existing calcium and iron amounts) since they have a greater affect on the risk of chronic health issues, like osteoporosis and blood pressure.
The way sugar levels are displayed will also be changed putting a greater emphasis on the difference between natural sugars and added sugars (added sugars being those artificial sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared).
Our thoughts on the changes? It’s been a long time coming.
On a typical container of ice cream, the serving size is listed as a half cup. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to a measly half cup of Ben&Jerrys, and don’t get me started on what constitutes as a “kiddie cone” at most local ice cream shops. On a 20 ounce bottle of soda, the serving size is typically eight ounces, but do most people actually stop drinking when they hit the eight ounce mark?
On the proposed label, a serving size of ice cream would be a full cup, and a bottle of soda, whether it contains 12 or 20 ounces, will be listed as a full serving and the calorie count will be updated to reflect this change. In this way, consumers have a better sense of their daily caloric intake.
Although the new nutrition labels are likely several years away, it’s promising to know that the FDA is finally publicly acknowledging that Americans have been basing their diets off of the current labels’ unrealistic (or idealistic?) serving sizes.
It’s high time for a change – or at least time to find someone to share that full serving of Ben&Jerry’s with.