The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts Label that appear on packaged food and beverages. It would be the first overhaul to those black-and-white boxes since the FDA introduced them more than 20 years ago. The changes would incorporate newer nutritional data while helping consumers make informed decisions.
The updates emphasize total calories, added sugar and certain nutrients. Calories and serving sizes would appear in larger, bold type. Furthermore, serving sizes will be more realistic and the number of servings per package will be more obvious. For example, the current serving size for ice cream is half a cup. The revised label allows one cup as a serving, which is a more true-to-life for most people.
Shifting Emphasis on the Nutrition Facts Label
The new “added sugars” Nutrition Facts Label listing is significant. It will show sugar that the food or drink doesn’t naturally contain, but that manufacturers add during processing—along with extra calories and zero nutrition. Consider this:
- The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar per day for women and nine for men.
- A 20-ounce bottle of regular soda contains 15 teaspoons of added sugar.
- The average American adult consumes around 22 teaspoons–240 empty calories—every day.
Other changes to the Nutrition Facts Label may include updating the daily value for some nutrients and removing “calories from fat.” The FDA is considering adding the amount of potassium and vitamin D to the Nutrition Facts Label, because Americans need more of these nutrients to prevent chronic disease. Potassium plays an important role in reducing high blood pressure and preventing hypertension. Vitamin D is vital for bone health, especially in women and adults over 62.
The Nutrition Facts Label makeover is long overdue. Valuable nutrient information will be easier to read and interpret. Consumers will be able to better control their health, because they will be able to make informed decisions about their food and drink choices.