Friday, February 28, 2014

Would you like sugar with that label?

Since nutrition labels - on packaged foods and restaurant menus- are my passion, if I did not address today's FDA announcement in my blog post I imagine my readers would worry that something dreadful had happened to me.  I am here, busy, but not too busy to stop to make note of today's announcement.

So YES, I saw the announcement and I think it is a step in the right direction, but I have two big concerns.

1) You still have to pick up the package (and those you want to compare it with) and turn it around to see the info.
2) A proposal is NOT a law, and heck, even if it was, I wouldn't feel that much more encouraged.  Psst... FDA we are still waiting for those restaurant menu label rules.

There are also several things that are good in the proposal.
I love that it includes an Added Sugar amount, and this recent blog post explains why you should be glad, too.  It is also good that the label is going to emphasize, with bold lettering, the calorie amount and make serving sizes more reasonable (hmm, this sounds like the IOM recommendations for a Front of Pack label that never happened).  But wait, I should clarify - reasonable was the wrong word - very wrong word.  I meant realistic.  The new serving sizes will reflect what a person is likely to consume in one sitting, not what is calorically appropriate for them to consume.  Lastly I think it is good that the label will highlight the amount of vitamin D in a serving. Americans don't lack for much in their diets, but most do not get enough vitamin D.

I either agree with or am ambivalent about some of the other changes.  For example, I agree that we don't need to know the percent of calories that come from fat, but do need to know the amount of fat, especially by type i.e., TFA which is harmful and  saturated fat, which might be harmful.  I understand why the FDA suggests keeping the percent daily value, but I hope that in the end they will change what the 'recommended' average daily calorie amount is and emphasize that the average daily calorie amount may or may not be YOUR recommended amount.

Some food manufacturers are upset about the proposal and will fight to keep the changes from happening - they say its too costly, and I say, use some of the marketing money you spend so freely.  Otherwise or nonetheless, expect many of your products to start having less grams of sugar and less calories - YES!

Here is the sample label from the FDA and a link to the press release where this picture was originally posted.


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