If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you also spend a little time reading something else: Nutrition Facts labels. You know—the ones on the back of your favorite packaged foods that provide handy information like how many calories or grams of sugar are in a serving? Well, those labels may soon be getting a makeover says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“There’s a feeling that nutrition labels haven’t been as effective as they should be,” said Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in a recent press release. “When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren’t intuitively familiar with.”
And in reality, a lot of things have changed since the labels were first introduced in the early 1990s—including what we know about nutrition and dietary guidelines—and results from a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study show that more people are reading them than ever before.
When Can We Expect a Makeover?
Although the FDA has already sent proposed changes to the White House, there’s no telling when we might see the new labels—or if additional recommendations may be added. Included among the changes nutritionists and other health experts would like to see are more clarity on serving sizes, a more prominent calorie count, and a distinction between naturally occurring sugars and those added in during processing and preparation.
Additionally, because our understanding of healthy and unhealthy fats has changed significantly in recent years (prompting the change in 2006 to separate out trans fats on the label), some health advocates would like to see the “calories from fat” declaration removed. Others would like to see a percentage for whole wheat, as well as clearer measurements overall (in some cases, teaspoons and grams vs. just grams).
Regardless of when the new labels may appear in stores, it’s a good sign that more and more people are paying attention to what goes into their food—and taking charge of their health and the health of their loved ones.