Food labels, the ones that reveal nutrition facts, are about to get a new look. And not everyone is happy about it.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the new look labels last Friday….the first significant changes to nutrition labels in 20 years.
The Washington Post just ran a headline that read: “Why the Sugar Industry Hates the FDA’s New Nutrition Facts Label.” In short, the changes include bigger and bolder type for the calories and serving size of food products and the amount of sugar added by the manufacturer.
One of the best changes is that the amount of added sugars is now separated from total sugars per serving. This will be a key shopping tool for Americans whose sweet tooth has them consuming 99 grams of added sugar daily, on average. For example, when hunting for the most nutritious breakfast juice, the consumer will now be able to quickly identify that a serving of orange juice and the same amount of an orange beverage – often sold side-by-side in the refrigerated section of the supermarket – are worlds apart in nutrition. While both drinks may have similar amounts of total sugars, the orange drink will now have to show that the majority of the sugars, if not all of them, are coming from “added sugars.” In contrast, the 100 percent orange juice will contain no added sugars per gulp.
According to a story in the New York Times, the sugar industry was critical of the FDA’s new labels. “The Sugar Association said it was “disappointed” by the F.D.A.’s decision to require a separate line for added sugars. It argued that the rule lacked “scientific justification.” The association said, “We are concerned that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent that is not grounded in science, and could actually deter us from our shared goal of a healthier America.”
However, others are applauding the change. USA Today quoted Jim O’Hara, director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, as saying, “With the line for added sugars…this has the potential to really drive consumer behavior. As consumers change their behavior, that will prompt the industry to change its recipes, its product formulation.”
Labels will gradually change over the next two years before the deadline in July 2018 and even more changes may be on the way. The FDA is also looking at whether there should be more strict rules on when products can be labeled “healthy” or “natural.”
What do you think about the decision to change nutrition labels? Do you think the new labels will alter the way people shop for themselves and their families? After all, finding new ways to encourage people to eat healthier might help us take another step toward our long term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!