FYI Friday – Changing Food Labels

The FDA recently announced it’s plan to change the Nutrition Facts label on food products in the USA. This is a welcome change as the labels have not been overhauled since they were introduced 20 years ago.

What Changes are they planning to make? Check out this infographic that shows the proposed changes.

Serving Sizes:

Serving sizes and calories are going to be more prominently displayed with bolder and larger font type. Additionally, serving sizes are going to reflect more realistic serving sizes a person would eat. The FDA is planning to mandate that single serving portions be labelled with the nutrition information for the entire package. Additionally, larger portion items will have dual column nutrition labels that will reflect the nutrition information for an estimated single serving size and the full product.

dual label

Source

I think updating the serving size is a great change. Serving size is probably one of the least understood concepts on a food label. Many people look at the label and assume that’s the calories that they are intaking without consulting the serving size. Having a serving size of 1 cup in a 2 cup juice container is misleading, as most people will drink the full 2 cups in one sitting. However, I do find the proposed dual label a little busy. There is already a lot of misunderstanding and confusion from the public when looking at a food label and I fear that the dual label will just add to confusion.

Daily Value:

Daily values are being updated and moved so they come first on the label. Additionally they plan to update the footnote to explain the meaning of daily values. However, that new footnote hasn’t been released.

I am unsure of my feelings on this change. I think daily values, when understood can be very useful. So if they do a good job of explanation, this may be a good change but it’s too soon to tell.

Micronutrients:

Vitamin D and potassium will now be required on the label along with calcium and iron. Vitamin A & Vitamin C will now be optional. Additionally, actual amounts of the micronutrients will be declared in addition to percent daily value.

The rationale for these changes is that they are including the “nutrients that the U.S. population is consuming inadequate amounts or are associated with the risk of chronic disease.” I think these are good changes and certainly I know for those suffering from any type of renal disease, the addition of potassium will be a welcome change.

Added Sugars:

The food labels will now include a column for added sugars. This is probably my favourite proposed change. I think if people could see exactly how much of the sugar is being added into their food it may make them think twice about a product. Additionally, it’s great to have the separation between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. I wish they would take it one step further and put the sugar amount into teaspoons as the general public has a better understanding of teaspoons vs grams.

The FDA has an 90 day period in which the public can comment on the proposed changes. I think it’s excellent that they are putting the proposed changes forward to the public and getting feedback before going forward with the changes.

Overall, I think the FDA is making some great strides in the right direction in terms of food labelling and I hope that Canada will soon follow suit with an update on our food labels.

What do you think of the proposed label changes? What would you like to see changed on food labels?

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4 thoughts on “FYI Friday – Changing Food Labels

  1. A needed change! If they could also change the nutritional facts to read ice cream having 0 calories with a serving size of a pint, I’d be even more grateful!

  2. Although these changes don’t affect me because I’m Canadian, my casual observation is that they should share what % of daily value the sugars in the product represent. I would think twice about eating something if it showed that 1 serving is 250% of the DV for sugar etc.

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