This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced proposed changes to food labels. These changes include a bigger focus on calories and “added sugars” as well as changing which vitamins and minerals are listed. The FDA has not updated the labels in more than 20 years.
In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Adventist Hospital, said she has been waiting for updated labels for a while now and that educated shoppers make better choices.
The proposed labels would have the number of calories in each serving prominently displayed in large font. In addition, labels would include “added sugars,” referring to the sugar added by the manufacturer.
“As diabetes continues to be a major concern in our country, it will be helpful to identify the added sugar content of all items,” says Pamela Barainca, clinical nutrition manager at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “Naturally-occurring sugars, such as those in whole fruits, tend to have more fiber, vitamins and minerals than products with ‘added sugars’ such as soda or sugar, sweetened desserts or beverages.”
In addition to these changes, the FDA is proposing changes around serving sizes. The new labels would better reflect how much people actually eat. For example, the new labels would show information for a full cup of ice cream versus the half of a cup serving now.
The proposed labels also remove Vitamins A and C, listing Vitamin D and potassium instead.
“People generally meet their Vitamin A and C requirements. But they are not getting enough Vitamin D or potassium,” says Barainca.
Ultimately, Barainca says “it all depends on the individual’s health status. Each person should be reading food labels to understand the nutrients and calories in their food choices. That is why it is important to regularly visit your doctor to know your body’s specific needs.”
If the labels are approved, you can expect to see the changes in the next two years.