The more we know about what goes into our food—and ultimately into our bodies—the easier it is to make smarter (and healthier) choices about what we put on our plates. So, when I heard the FDA announced plans recently to give the Nutrition Facts label a makeover to provide more clarity for consumers, I thought it was a definite step in the right direction.
“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.”
In reality, a lot of things have changed since Nutrition Facts 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?
The FDA has already sent proposed changes to the White House, but there’s no telling when we might see the new labels or if additional recommendations may be added. Many nutritionists and other health experts are calling for things like 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.
And, 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). I am very much in favor of giving these measurements in teaspoons. The fact is, as a population we are not used to visualizing our proportions in grams, but we sure know what a teaspoon is!
Regardless of when the new labels may appear in stores, I say 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. Stay tuned to BrendaWatson.com for more updates!