The FDA Gives the Nutrition Label a Makeover

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

The food label we’ve all grown familiar with is finally getting a makeover. It’s been 20 years since it came out and nothing much has really changed since then.

We think it’s about time, to say the least. A lot of information has come out over the past few decades, changing the way we think about health and food.

Will these changes be positive and actually help people make healthier choices? We only hope so. After all, knowledge is the key to helping people make informed decisions.

So, here are some of the proposed changes and what they could mean.

Food Label Changes: Some Good, Some Bad?

1. “Added Sugars” will be included for the first time.

This is extremely important, since the amount of sugar eaten in the American diet has increased significantly in the last three decades. It will now be obvious what foods actually contain processed sugar. Currently, it is not. As we’ve mentioned many times, lots of processed foods contain hidden sugar.

2. Calories added from fat will no longer be included.

The FDA believes the type of fat (for example, trans fat versus saturated fat) is more important than the total amount of fat in food.

About 20 years ago, all fats were seen in a negative light. Today, we know all fats are not created equal, with some having better health benefits than others.

3. Serving sizes will be updated to reflect the amount of food people currently eat.

The serving size is not going to be based on what people should be eating but will reflect our current ("supersized") reality. For example, a 20 ounce soda will now be counted as one serving, because this is what people usually drink in one sitting.

We’re not sure if this change is a good idea. It could inadvertently lead people to eat larger portions. What do you think?

4. The Daily Value for certain nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will change.

These will shift in location to the left side of the nutrition label.

Keep in mind that Daily Values are estimates that help people avoid nutrient deficiencies. They are not based on optimal health.

5. The current label does not indicate the amount of potassium or vitamin D in a product, but now it will.

Why the change? The FDA feels people aren’t getting enough of these nutrients.

We think this is a smart move, especially with all of the new knowledge regarding the benefits of vitamin D and potassium. Too many studies are showing that many Americans are vitamin D deficient.

6. The amount of vitamins A and C will no longer be required.

The FDA thinks these deficiencies are not common and don’t deserve attention. However, for someone who is looking to optimize their intake, it helps to know.

Bad move? We think so!

The FDA Actually Wants Your Opinion

The proposed changes aren't set in stone. They are open for comments within the next three months. If you want to make any suggestions, you can visit this website: www.regulations.gov.

What Does it Mean for You?

Hopefully, these changes will help people make better choices about what they are going to eat. But in the end, people should strive to avoid pre-packaged foods altogether.

Why? Because whole foods in their natural state are always a healthier option.

Do you think these changes will be for the better? Please tell us your opinion in the comments!

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm. Accessed February 27, 2014.

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6 comments:

Cody Smith said...

It's about time we start getting more accurate supplement labeling on these products. Life Extension I can trust however those smaller companies who knows...

Jim Logajan said...

Fine-tuning an utterly useless regulation:

The bulk of the food I eat comes from the produce section of a grocery store. The fruits and vegetables are priced by the piece or pound. It is the only quantifiable info supplied. No one is going to attempt to place nutrition labels on produce (well, they shouldn't if they want accurate values or don't want to substantially increase the cost of food staples.) I certainly didn't get (or expect!) any information on how much fish oil is in that cut of salmon I asked for at the meat section.

I suppose if most people consumed mostly processed food then the labeling might be of some minor value. But I assume (well, hope) that most people are like me and the bulk of their food is supplied with no specific nutrition information. In which case, for most people this whole exercise probably falls under a corollary to John von Neumann's observation that "There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about.":

There's no point in providing precise measurements of processed food when it is not (and ideally should not) be a person's primary source of food.

Where I want good estimates is in those products specifically sold for their nutrient contents. E.g. LEF supplements, but not candy bars.

Life Extension said...

Cody Smith - Let's hope these changes are for the best! And thanks for your trust. :-)

Life Extension said...

Jim Logajan - We wish more people at like you. In that case, we probably wouldn't need nutritional labels. :-)

Stephen in DeLand said...

I'll agree that it is about time they made some adjustments to the nutrition label to keep up with the time (frankly I was surprised they hadn't been making any changes to these labels over the last 20 years). Adding more information about sugar content is a great move too. Americans are consuming a lot of sugar and unfortunately there are many "sugary" foods that we simply take for granted. These improved labels should provide a real wake up call to many people about how much sugar they didn't realize they were eating.

Life Extension said...

Stephen in DeLand - Agreed! Thanks for your feedback.

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