FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- America's food labels
may get their first makeover in more than 20 years.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency
is working toward publishing proposed rules to update nutrition
labels and serving size information.
The agency says its aim is "to improve consumer understanding
and use of nutrition information on food labels," according to the
Nutrition labeling was introduced more than 20 years ago, and
the FDA says the science and recommendations behind food labeling
has changed since 1992.
"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," according to an FDA email.
The FDA has sent guidelines for the new labels to the White
House, but there's no time frame yet on when they'll be launched,
the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor, told the
Calorie listing is expected to be more prominent on the new
label, and that could be useful to consumers, according to Regina
Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents
the nation's largest food companies.
She also told the
APthat the FDA may be considering removing the "calories
from fat" statement on the label.
The anticipated changes come at a time when more Americans are
checking out nutrition labels on food products. An Agriculture
Department study showed that 42 percent of working adults read the
panel always or most of the time in 2009 and 2010, compared with 34
percent two years earlier, the
The current labels have been useful, said Elisabetta Politi,
nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center at Duke
University. "I think that the labels have done a pretty good job at
highlighting nutrients we see Americans eating to excess or not
enough of," Politi said.
Salt, for example, is a nutrient that Americans consume way too
much of, said Politi, and having amounts of salt listed on labels
has helped people track their intake.
Politi said she'd like to see serving sizes updated to reflect
more realistic servings, though. "Soup, for example, the serving
size is half a cup, but who eats half a cup of chicken noodle
Dana Angelo White, a sports dietitian and assistant clinical
professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, said sugar
labeling could use an update. "Right now, the label just lists
sugar but doesn't differentiate between added sugar and natural
sugars like those in milk and fruit. I can't tell you how many
times people say, 'I can't believe they add sugar to yogurt,' not
knowing it's natural sugars."
Politi also said she'd like to see improved education about
reading food labels in schools. "We learn math that we never, never
use in our life, but not about food which involves decisions we
have to make daily," she said.
For more on healthy eating, visit the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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