Nutrition facts label getting a makeover
In its first overhaul in 20 years, the FDA is planning a significant update of its nutrition facts panel.
The FDA said the changes are necessary to keep pace with the science of nutrition, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label also features more realistic serving sizes, and more prominently highlights calories.
Some of the changes to the label the FDA proposed today would:
- Require information about the amount of "added sugars" in a food product.
- Continue to require "Total Fat," "Saturated Fat," and "Trans Fat" on the label, although "Calories from Fat" would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Update serving size requirements to reflect what people actually eat, not what they should be eating based on portion sizes more attuned to the 1970s and ’80s. Twenty-ounce bottles of soda would be counted as one serving, rather than the 2.5 servings often listed now.
- Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, key factors in addressing obesity and heart disease.
- 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.
- Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D.
"Unless you had a thesaurus, a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck," said Michelle Obama at a White House event Thursday on deciphering the current label. "So you felt defeated, and you just went back to buying the same stuff."
The administration estimates that the relabeling could cost the industry $2 billion to implement but will result in $20 billion to $30 billion in benefits over 20 years.
The FDA hopes the change will prompt the food industry to reformulate many products. The food industry has previously protested the "added sugars" line and may lobby to delay the changes.
"We are not just changing the presentation of information," Stuart Pape, a lawyer at Patton Boggs who represents food companies, told the Washington Post. "It is about as far-reaching in the food industry as one can envision."
- FDA proposes updates to Nutrition Facts label on food packages – FDA
- Food labels to get first makeover in 20 years with new emphasis on calories, sugar – Washington Post
- New F.D.A. Nutrition Labels Would Make ‘Serving Sizes’ Reflect Actual Servings – The New York Times
What do you think of the proposed changes to the FDA’s nutritional facts panel? Should the food industry and retailers support or seek to prevent the changes?