The FDA hopes to update the 20-year-old Nutrition Facts Label to help the public make healthier food choice. Currently, the FDA is seeking comments on the proposed changes from consumers before any changes are actually made. The incidence of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity is rising and research evidence is continuing to show how diet impacts these diseases. Therefore, it is important for consumers to understand how diet influences their overall health and well-being. The FDA’s goal is to create an up-to-date, easy to understand nutrition label that will inform consumers of the dietary pros and cons of the foods they wish to consume.
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label include: the addition of added sugar under carbohydrates; updated sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D percent daily values; new serving size requirements; eliminating calories from fat; replacing percent daily value of vitamin A and C with potassium and Vitamin D.
Research suggests that most of the population needs to limit their added sugar intake. Added sugars usually contain little nutritional benefit and often replace low calorie, nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. By including the amount of added sugar to the Nutrition Facts Label, individuals will be able to assess the amount of added sugar versus the amount of naturally occurring sugar in a product.
The FDA is requesting comments from the public regarding alterations to percent daily value of sodium intake. The majority of consumers eat more than 3,000mg of sodium increases their risk for high blood pressure. Currently, the Nutrition Facts Label uses 2,400mg of sodium to calculate the percent daily value and is proposing to decrease the recommendation to 2,300mg of Sodium. Certain populations at greater risk for developing heart disease and high blood pressure are recommended to further limit their sodium intake to 1,500mg of sodium, so the FDA is asking for comments on whether a daily value of 1,500mg would be a more appropriate daily value.
Similar to sodium, the FDA would like to update percent daily values for fiber and vitamin D as a result of the nutrients effect on health. Increased fiber intake is necessary for optimal gut health and has been shown to decrease the risk for developing certain types of cancer such as colorectal cancer. Vitamin D recommendations have also increased as new evidence links vitamin D to improved bone health.
Iron, calcium, vitamin C and A are vitamins and minerals required to appear at the bottom of your nutrition facts label. The FDA desires to change these recommended vitamins and minerals to Vitamin D, potassium, iron and calcium. When the original food label was created, the above vitamins and minerals were not being consumed in adequate amounts by most consumers and increased their risk for nutritional deficiencies such as scurvy. Current research suggests vitamin C and A deficiencies are uncommon. Vitamin D, due its impact on bone health, and potassium’s role in heart health, are new nutrients of concern.
Serving size requirements would also be improved. FDA would require any food package that would typically be consumed in one sitting to have a serving size of one. For example a 99cents bag of chips could no longer have a serving size of 2 or 3. Products such as a pint of ice cream that could be consumed in more than one sitting would have 2 Nutrition Labels: one label to require a serving size of one and the other a serving size of more than one. This is to prevent misleading consumers of their overall calorie intake.
Currently, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat appear on the Nutrition Label. The FDA proposes the removal of calories from fat since research suggests the type of fat influences health more than the overall amount.
With these proposed changes, consumers will hopefully become empowered to make better dietary choices to improve their overall health and welfare.
To learn more about the proposed changes, you can visit the FDA’s website.