New labels worth the weight?

FDA is asking for public comment on two proposals to improve the appearance and content of the nutrition label on packaged and processed food. The agency says the proposed changes may help consumers make informed weight management decisions. The proposals focus on providing practical serving size information and increasing the prominence of calories on the food label.

The proposals are direct responses to the recommendations contained in the FDA's Obesity Working Group (OWG) report entitled "Calories Count."

"This action demonstrates our commitment to make the food label more meaningful and helpful to consumers," said Dr. Robert Brackett, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "We are interested in exploring how modifying the food labeling regulations might give consumers better information they can use to control and manage their weight."

Cheese does not stand alone

Milk processors are lending a hand to cheese manufacturers who are required to meet a January 1, 2006 deadline for trans fat labeling. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says it analyzed and compared the trans fat content in milk fat in both milk and cheese, and will make the results available to cheese manufacturers.

IDFA says the study will save cheese manufacturers time and resources by avoiding costly analysis on individual products. While most dairy food products have low levels of trans fat, dairy product labels must still add a new line within the Nutrition Facts panel that lists the product's trans fat content, even if it is "zero grams."

New EPA leader named

President Bush turned to an agency insider to head up the Environmental Protection Agency in his second term. Bush tapped Stephen L. Johnson, who has served at EPA for 24 years, to become the next EPA Administrator. In submitting Johnson's nomination to the Senate, Bush called him "a talented scientist and skilled manager with a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship.