I’m kinda, sorta, almost impressed by the recent efforts by the FDA to revise and improve upon the nutrition label guidelines. It only took TWENTY YEARS. Well, ok, the process of revision has been underway for just over two years, but it’s been twenty since first created; and after a multitude of debates, committee meetings, panels… yada yada… the FDA released an overhaul of the nutrition labels on all packaged food products. Companies have two years to fully incorporate the new labels.
This may be the only time I’ve ever been able to get behind the idea of labels… or the FDA. I’ll admit, I’m still a little skeptical. The agency’s reputation is less than stellar when it comes to regulation or implementation… not to mention their lower than acceptable standards by my book. Granted, I have really high standards.
While the new guidelines certainly don’t emphasize the importance of whole foods, at least more accurate information will be available when choosing the processed variety… and will hopefully be more of a deterrent to anyone actually concerned enough to turn over the package they’re about to purchase (and presumably consume).
Ok, enough of my banter. Let’s get into some of the more impactful changes.
Suspect Sugar Specificity
“Carbohydrates” will now contain a subsection for “Added Sugars,” which includes all sugars that do not naturally occur in the food. No more guessing what portion of the sugar is natural vs processed. While all sugar can have a damaging effect on the body in excess, and for some, it should be avoided altogether; natural sugars are different because they contain nutritional elements that help limit potential damage.
Serving Size Reality Check
Serving sizes will reflect what people actually consume… as in, is anyone really buying a bottle of soda and saving half for later? Disclaimer: I do not condone nor endorse consuming soda of any kind (except maybe soda water, with vodka and lime). Regardless of what you choose, the labels should reflect how people actually eat.
Vitamin Ins & Outs
Vitamin D and potassium are being added to the labels, since research shows most Americans are lacking in these vital nutrients; while Vitamins A and C are no longer required, as these are considered less of a concern, with fewer people shown to be deficient.
Less Fear-Mongering of Fat
The new label no longer lists the amount of calories derived from fat. The most up-to-date scientific research on the issue shows that it’s more important to eat certain types of healthy fat than to simply restrict fat as a nutrient. Amen. Low fat diets are so last century.
Additionally, yet minimally notable: the design also had a slight makeover, increasing the type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size”, and bolding the number of calories and the “Serving size” to highlight this information. The below graphic shows the old (left) and revised (right) labels.
Here’s hoping some of these revisions will influence not only the consumers, but also the food manufacturers to improve the nutritional profile of their products!
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