With new knowledge about nutrition and more evidence that people actually consult the labels of food packages, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally giving the 20 year old nutrition labels an update.
“The agency is working toward publishing proposed rules to update the nutrition facts label and serving size information to improve consumer understanding and use of nutrition information on food labels,” said Juli Putnam, a media spokesperson for the FDA in an email to TIME. “For example, the initial nutritional facts label focused on fat in the diet. There is now a shift to focus on calories to help consumers construct healthy diets.”
The FDA isn’t revealing much about exactly what is changing and when Americans will see the revised label. But nutrition experts have long called for more straightforward and updated labels. For example, many think calories should be a bigger feature and the amount of added sugar should also be listed. Things that are important to keeping a healthy diet like portion sizes should also be clearer, as the AP reports.
Other things that nutritionists hope the FDA will change include more clarity on the amounts of wheat added to products, since many processed foods claim to add the fiber-rich ingredient, even if it’s in small quantities. The AP reports that the FDA is also aware that many consumers aren’t familiar with the metric measurement system that labels currently use to measure ingredients, typically in grams. And there is also a push for putting the labels on the front of packaging, in a more prominent position, which the FDA has considered in the past.
Of course, any revisions would require food manufacturers to redesign their packaging. But, as Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods told AP, “The food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed. It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”