By Deborah Moss, RD, CDN
Healthy eating starts at the supermarket. So navigating the food aisles just might have gotten a little easier for the consumer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that its plans to update the look and content of the classic Nutrition Facts label. The label, which has been required on most food packages and beverages for over 20 years, was designed to help people become more aware of what they are consuming in order to make informed and healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.
The label has not changed significantly since 2006, when trans fat were required to be listed on the label. So why is the FDA proposing a new label?
“Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” said 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.”
Let’s look at a few of the proposed changes by the FDA to the Nutrition Facts label:
Calories – A greater emphasis, with larger and bolder type, on calories. It is important to track daily calories in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Sugar – Added sugars will be included in the updated label to help consumers understand how much sugar is naturally occurring and how much has been added to the product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The major sources of added sugars are found in soda and energy or sports drinks, desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, and candy.
Fat - Calories from fat will be eliminated from the label. Total, saturated and trans fat, will still appear on the label.
Serving Size – Change the serving sizes to reflect the amounts most people really eat. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Additionally, packaged foods, including drinks that are typically eaten in one sitting, would be labeled as a single serve. Larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings would indicate dual columns showing both a “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information on the nutrition label.
The FDA has opened a 90-day comment period in which experts and members of the public can provide input on the proposed rules and will then issue a final rule. Officials said they hope to complete the process this year so don’t expect to see the FDA’s proposed Nutrition facts label changes anytime soon.
Deborah Moss is a registered dietitian and certified dietetic nutritionist. She is the owner of Natural Nutrition and Wellness, a private nutrition counseling practice that specializes in women’s health and wellness, specifically focusing on weight management and the integration of nutrition for disease prevention and management. Deborah graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition. She completed a dietetic internship program through LIU, CW Post. She has presented nutrition and wellness classes associated with diabetes, heart disease and weight management to numerous clients through corporate wellness programs. Deborah’s goal in counseling is in helping others achieve a healthier and more balanced life.
For any diet and nutrition questions, contact Deborah at nnwellness.com!