What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?  Not according to the Food and Drug Administration, which announced a new proposal for nutrition labels last week.

Designed to help Americans make healthier choices and limit sugar intake, calories would be bigger and bolder and the amount of added sugars would be listed on the proposed labels.  Additionally, “Calories from Fat” will be removed, but “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will remain. Vitamin sections would be revised, with A and C omitted andD and potassium  included, since they impact the risk of health issues such as osteoporosis and blood pressure.

Most importantly, serving sizes will be more realistic. As an example, the current serving of ice cream is listed as just a half a cup, so a pint of ice cream – currently  labeled as four servings – this would be labeled as two servings, with calorie counts and other nutritional information revised accordingly. If a package does contain multiple servings, this would be clear: Instead of “amount per serving,” it might read “amount per cup.” How new FDA labels will change your food

First Lady Michelle Obama is spearheading the label revision movement. “Our guiding principle here is very simple: that 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,” she said. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.” Michelle Obama teams up to overhaul nutrition labels

Here’s a visual comparison of the old and the proposed labels. Side by side comparison of nutrition labels

If the changes go into effect, this will mark the first time in 20 years the labels have been revised — more than 700,000 products would be impacted.   FDA proposal for serving sizes

According to the FDA, much more is known about the relationship between nutrients and the risk of chronic diseases than it was when the nutrition label was first introduced in 1993.”Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” says Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats.” FDA Consumer Updates

It may be several years until the food labels are revised, as the new rule is subject to a 90-day comment period, and the final ruling could take months to be finalized. Additionally, the FDA would give food manufacturers two years to comply. 

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