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Nutrition facts label overhauled

Nutrition factsFirst Lady Michelle Obama introduced major proposed changes to the nutrition facts label on behalf of FDA at an event held at the White House on February 27, 2014. The updates are designed to reflect the latest scientific information on the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. The announcement focused on changes in label requirements that highlight new information such as calories and serving sizes.

 “Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” says Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats.”

FDA will now require “added sugars” to be listed on labels in addition to sugars, in response to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ contention that the intake of added sugar is too high in the US population and should be reduced. Additionally, “calories from fat” will be removed from labels in favor of a larger, bold-typeface calorie count.

The agency also proposed updating serving size requirements to reflect portion size more accurately, and adding new “dual column” labels to indicate both per serving and per package calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one or multiple sittings.

“What and how much people eat and drink have changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994,” says the FDA announcement. “By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people ‘should’ be eating.”

Listing Vitamins A and C would become optional while Vitamin D and potassium would be required, and the daily value for sodium would be decreased from 2,400mg to 2,300mg.

 The changes could result in higher advertised calorie counts for many products that are currently specified as containing more than one serving but are typically consumed in one sitting. For instance, a 20-oz. soda which was listed as containing 2.5 servings will now be labeled as containing a single serving with 2.5 times the calories. 

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