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Future Health

FDA proposes new food label

August 20, 2014 

The FDA is proposing new food labels in an effort to change the way we make our daily choices about buying and eating food. The idea is to make it easier for people to make healthy choices. A few of the changes include the calorie count, which is larger and bolder, the fat count stays large but loses the calories from fat category and the portion size is highlighted - all this so people do not have to do the math to figure out exactly what they are eating.

Equally important is the new labels inclusion of a line for added sugar, highlighting the fact that while some sugar is natural, many products have added sugar which is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and other health related problems.

In what would be the first change in the food and beverage labels in more than 20 years, the FDA proposal reflects new approaches to healthy eating. For example, studies show Americans eat far more sugar than they think. A 20 ounce bottle of soda now usually is labeled as 2.5 servings, even though most people drink the entire bottle. The new labels would be required to count that same bottle as one serving, making the calorie count more accurate for the consumer. The serving size of a half cup on ice cream labels would increase to one cup, since that is the size most people are likely to eat.

The FDA said it would cost about 2 billion dollars to make the changes, but the health benefits have the potential to save tens of billions. The proposal won't be final for several months, and the food industry would have two years to make the changes.

While public health experts praised the FDA proposal, the food industry is expected to object. Many expect the proposal to be controversial.