FDA Revising Food Nutrition Labels

It's been 10 years in the making, but the agency sent guidelines for re-doing the nutrition label to the White House for review

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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.

(MORE: Why People Don’t Understand Nutrition Labels)

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.”

[AP]

7 comments
suphmc
suphmc

So help if they replace the metric measurements on food labels I will be so disappointed in america...

Yoshi
Yoshi

Hmm. Looks like I'll be learning to decode a new label system. This happens every so often. Then the companies bat the changes around until they can set up a new "weasel-word" list to get around possible negative effects new labeling requirements might impose/expose. Too bad there can't just be plain language and a uniform system of "servings" measurement, like simply the total number of calories in a can of soup, no "half-quote" to make it appear healthier at first glance.

JasmineKaur
JasmineKaur

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DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

The "servings" packaging is the problem.  A can of soup?  "About" 2 servings.  Really?  They don't know?  How could they package "about" two servings?  Can't they package exactly two servings and leave it up to the customer to portion it out?

A can of corn?  3 3/4 servings.  I'm SHOPPING here. I don't have time to mess with FRACTIONS.  I don't open 3/4 of a can of corn.  It's the whole damn can or none at all.  TELL ME HOW MANY TOTAL CALORIES (and everything else) ARE IN SINGLE-USE ITEMS LIKE CANS!  Have you ever read one of those single-use packages of cookies or chips?  They contain more than ONE serving!  REALLY???

I mean, a tub of mayo, okay, a serving is easy to measure out.  A bunch of chips, hell, I can count or weigh it out. because the serving size is in whole numbers (1 TBSP, 1 ounce, etc).

But the nonsense of packing canned or one-time open packaged items with serving sizes that make no damn sense because no one uses PART of a can (at least no one without an anal-retentive personality that needs professional help) is stupid.  Being able to dump it in a bowl, split it up into equal portions THEN doing the math is great.  Screw "serving sizes", that's just marketing for single-use containers to make people think there are fewer calories than there are.  If the container can't be closed again (or isn't usually used more than once), list the packages total calories and other information and let people figure out how much of that they want.

JenaMorgan
JenaMorgan

They need to change the rule that if the serving size contains .5 or fewer grams of trans fat per serving, it doesn't have to be on the label. Not many people know that you have to actually look for the word "hydrogenated" in the ingredient listing to even know if it's in there.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

Grams aren't the problem. If fact, for those counting calories, grams are a requirement. Most kitchen scales can measure ounces and grams. But the ounces can only be measured to the nearest eighth of an ounce, whereas the same scale can measure to the nearest gram. And considering that an eighth of an ounce is 3.5 grams, measuring in grams is more accurate.


For most people, this isn't a big deal, but for those of us counting calories, then every gram is important.


On the flip side, the actual portion size needs to be accurate. How many calories in a slice of bacon? According to the label I read last night, it should be about 180 for a serving. Unfortunately, the label doesn't say that one slice of bacon is just over TWO servings!!! And this wasn't even the thick-cut bacon either. Very misleading. And unless you have a kitchen scale, you'd never know why you're eating too many calories.