Choosing healthier foods at the grocery store may soon be a little easier.
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing several changes to the nutrition labels you see on packaged foods and beverages. If approved, the new labels would place a bigger emphasis on total calories, added sugars and certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D and potassium.
The FDA is also proposing changes to serving size requirements in an effort to more accurately reflect what people usually eat or drink. For example, if you buy a 20-ounce soda, you’re probably not going to stop drinking at the 8-ounce mark. The new rules would require that entire soda bottle to be one serving size — making calorie counting simpler.
This is the first overhaul for nutrition labels since the FDA began requiring them more than 20 years ago. There has been a shift in shoppers’ priorities as nutrition is better understood and people learn what they should watch for on a label, administration officials said.
“You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” first lady Michelle Obama said in a press release. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
The proposed labels would remove the “calories from fat” line you currently see on labels, focusing instead on total calories found in each serving. Nutritionists have come to understand that the type of fat you’re eating matters more than the calories from fat. As such, the breakdown of total fat vs. saturated and trans fat would remain.
The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.
Chemically, added sugar is the same, but studies show many Americans eat more sugar than they realize. The American Heart Association recommends you limit added sugar to no more than half your daily discretionary calories. That means for American men, about 150 calories a day, or nine teaspoons. For women it’s a smaller amount — no more than 100 calories per day from added sugar, or about six teaspoons of sugar.
The FDA also plans to update the daily values for certain nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. For instance, the daily limit for sodium was 2,400 milligrams. If the new rules take effect, the daily value will be 2,300 milligrams, administration officials said.