New FDA Rules: Judging Food By the Label Just Got Easier

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Times and food labels are a-changin’ at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Thursday, the agency revealed a redesigned nutrition label that, if approved, will clarify healthy versus unhealthy choices for consumers. In a press release, the FDA said it needed to revamp the labels to reflect current science and how people eat. The newer format includes making the calorie count more prominent, as well as how many servings the package holds.

Eating habits have changed since 1994 when serving sizes were first introduced, the FDA explains. Now, instead of detailing the caloric, and nutrient breakdown for what is recommended people consume, the label will have to inform people the amounts in what they are actually eating or drinking. With the new labels in place, a “half-size” label would no longer meet standards since people will not stop eating a bagel or muffin halfway through. Another change of ilk would be a second column, showing per serving, and per package levels. That way, when an item may be consumed in a few sittings, or even at once, people have an accurate picture of what it contains.

“For 20 years, consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D stated. “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.”

The last major change to the label was introduced in 2006, when trans fat became an included line. This, along with saturated fat and total fat, will remain as a value with the updated information — however, calories from fat will disappear. The FDA justified this by saying the type of fat is a more important consideration than the amount.

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