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Food Labels: FDA wants your opinion

nutritionlabelsProposed_Standard_NFL_2.13.14

Efforts are underway to update the standard nutrition labels found on food, and the Food and Drug Administration wants your input.

The FDA announced last month that it plans to make changes to the labels to give consumers a better idea of what they are eating and how the contents, such as added sugars and trans fats, could negatively affect your health.

The labels have not been changed in 20 years, when a law passed requiring all packaged food to carry them.

The changes are needed, FDA officials said, to keep consumers informed of their choices and the relationship between food, healthy weight and illnesses.

“Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” said FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director Michael Landa. “The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems.”

The proposals include listing the amount of sugar added to products in addition to naturally occurring sugars, updating serving sizes to reflect standard consumption (i.e., the label of a 16-ounce Coke would contain the calorie, sugar and nutrition count for the entire bottle) and naming the grams of trans fats, which have been tied to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Other proposals include:

  • Dual column labels that show “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition content;
  • Levels of potassium and vitamin D in products — nutrients of which medical professionals say Americans don’t get enough (consequently, the new labels would no longer list vitamins A and C, although makers can included them voluntarily);
  • Revisions to the daily values for sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D, with appropriate recalculations of the percent daily value on the labels;
  • And a newer format that would emphasize calories, serving sizes and percent daily values to help consumers make sound choices for their health.

The FDA has not given a timeline for the new label rollout but is soliciting public feedback on the proposal. The 90-day comment period ends June 2 and can be accessed here at regulations.gov.

“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said. “To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed nutrition facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”

Patricia Kime is the health reporter for Military Times. She can be reached at pkime@militarytimes.com.

Patricia Kime

Patricia Kime is a health writer for Military Times. Reach her at pkime@militarytimes.com.

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