Your biggest ally in the journey of healthy eating and fighting obesity is the nutrition label. The secret to having a healthy and fit body relies more on the quality of the foods we eat than calories in versus calories out. If you’ve heard about the heated debate about nutrition labels but don’t know what the big deal is, I’ll give you the scoop.
Knowing how to read a nutrition label is vitally important to your health. Many Americans don’t know how or don’t know what they’re looking for. Don’t worry, read my post on how to read labels to get up to speed. The current Nutrition Facts label was introduced in 1993 to provide consumers with nutritional information about the food they are eating. Setting aside the fact that most real food doesn’t require a label, these changes were mandated by the FDA to assist the public with making good choices. Let’s also overlook the incredible spending power and influence of the food industry over these labels. The landscape of our healthcare system and obesity rates have drastically changed in the last 21 years. The FDA is allowing 90 days for comment to its proposal and it will take about two years for companies to comply. Here are the highlights:
- The number of calories is in larger and bold type
- Added sugars will now appear under Total Carbs letting people know what is natural sugar versus processed sugar
- Calories from fat will be removed
- Servings per container will be in larger and bold type and includes the actual serving size
- There is a recommendation to make the serving size reflect what people are actually eating versus what they should be eating
- The Daily Values will be shifted to the left of the label and will also be updated to new percentages
- The amount of potassium and vitamin D are now required as most Americans are deficient
- Companies are still not required to indicate whether it includes GMO ingredients
- There are no recommendations to the ingredients portion of the label
This is a very simplified summary of the entire proposal. In my opinion a change to the serving size to what we actually eat is necessary and appreciated. Food companies have been playing games with calories per serving by putting amounts people wouldn’t eat. No one eats just a cup of cereal. The Daily Values is being evaluated based on the current nutritional needs of the public. The recommended sodium intake may be coming down for example. Cheers to including the added sugar line. Now people can differentiate between naturally occurring sugar and added processed sugar. This is a big win. There is so much added sugar to products such as spaghetti sauce and ketchup. You will now be able to see how much of that sugar comes from the tomato versus added. Food companies are probably going to fight that though. It’s a well kept secret.
What’s missing are two key things. GMO is a big deal and people should be given the freedom to choose if they want to consume food that includes genetically modified organisms. Grass roots groups having been calling for that for years. However big players in this space such as Monsanto have been able to keep this off the record. The list of ingredients isn’t really getting an overhaul. I personally think its more important to know the ingredients. That tells me if I want to eat it or not.
Why does this matter to you? Food is what sustains you and you should know what you’re putting in your body. 42% of working-age adults between the ages of 29-68 agree. They read the labels most or all of the time when they do their shopping. 57% of Americans over the age 68 do as well. This is up 34% and 51% respectively from 2007*.
The FDA is requesting comment from the public at the Regulations.gov website. It’s a bit tricky to find the proposal, so here’ a link. The deadline for comments is June 2nd, 90 days from when it was posted March 3rd. Let your voices be heard. Take a look at the proposed and current label.
Let us and the FDA know your thoughts on the label changes. I have! Share this post with your friends and spread the word. So far almost 1,000 comments have been received by the FDA.
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