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FDA Proposes Changes To Food Labels

Reading food labels may be getting easier.

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing several changes to the nutrition labels found on packaged foods and drinks.

“Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” says Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats.”

So what are the proposed changes? There will be a greater emphasis — with bolder, larger type — on calories. Also, calories from fat would no longer be listed. However, total, saturated and trans fat will still be required.

The number of servings per package would be more prominent, and the FDA is also proposing updating serving sizes, reflecting the reality of what people actually eat, according to recent consumption data. “Amount Per Serving” would now have the actual serving size listed, such as “Amount Per Cup.” For example, if you buy a 20-ounce soda, you’re probably not going to stop drinking at the 8-ounce mark. The new rules would require that entire soda bottle to be one serving size — making calorie counting simpler.

For the first time “Added Sugars” would be included on the label. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

Nutrition LablesThis is the first overhaul to the labels since the FDA started requiring them in 1990. Making us more aware of what we’re eating and how much can be helpful in preventing obesity, and considering that more than one third of all Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these changes are long overdue.