The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today unveiled its proposed revisions for the ubiquitous Nutrition Facts label. Around 20 years ago, the agency instituted the labels in an attempt to provide consumers with more information about their food. Take a look at any packaged food item in your pantry, and regardless of origin or brand, you’ll find one of their black and white labels. The current design provides information about calories, fat, and sodium, in addition to the percent of DV (daily values) of each. However, the FDA claims that today’s labels contain outdated information about serving sizes, and could do a better job of emphasizing the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. Keep reading for a look at the proposed changes.

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“To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

The most obvious difference between the current Nutrition Facts label design and the proposed design is the prominence of information about servings per container and calories per serving. The FDA says this is an attempt to address the reality of what the average person considers a serving to be.

“What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994,” explains an FDA press release. “By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people ‘should’ be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.”

Related: FDA Rejects NRDC’s Petition to Ban BPA from Food Packaging

The new labels would also reveal the amount of “added sugars” in a food product for the first time. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.

Although the FDA seems to be getting tougher on sugar, it’s changing its strategy with regard to fat. While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “TransFat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed from the new labels because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.

The changes proposed today affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama regarding the proposed label changes. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

Learn more about the proposed Nutrition Facts label changes, including additional visuals, here.


Images via ashleigh290 and FDA

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