Food labels to meet reality
Proposal reflects how much we actually eat
This handout image provide by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows, from left, a current food nutrition label, a proposed label and an alternate label. Revamped food nutrition labels would change serving sizes for popular items like ice cream and sodas, make calories listing more prominent, and, for the first time, list any sugars that were added by the manufacturer. The overhaul of the omnipresent 20 year-old label comes as science has shifted. (AP Photo/FDA)
First lady Michelle Obama, flanked by enlargements of a proposed nutrition label, left, and a proposed alternate label, claps as she speaks during in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, about helping parents and other consumers make healthier choices as part of her Let's Move program. The Obama administration is proposing new food labels that would make it easier to know about calories and added sugars, a reflection of the shifting science behind nutrition. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, where first lady Michelle Obama spoke about helping parents and other consumers make healthier choices as part of her Let's Move program. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Ice cream lovers beware: The government knows you’re unlikely to stop after half a cup.
New nutrition labels proposed yesterday for many popular foods, including ice cream, aim to more accurately reflect what people actually eat. And the proposal would make calorie counts on labels more prominent, too, reflecting that nutritionists now focus more on calories than fat.
For the first time, labels also would be required to list any sugars that are added by manufacturers.
In one example of the change, the estimated serving size for ice cream would jump from a half cup to a cup, so the calorie listing on the label would double as well.
The idea behind the change, the first overhaul of the labels in two decades, isn’t that the government thinks people should be eating twice as much; it’s that they should understand how many calories are in what they already are eating. The Food and Drug Administration says that, by law, serving sizes must be based on actual consumption, not some ideal.
“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,” said first lady Michelle Obama, who joined the FDA in announcing the proposed changes at the White House.
Obama made the announcement as part of her Let’s Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is marking its fourth anniversary.
The new labels would be less cluttered. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg called them “a more user-friendly version.”
But they are probably several years away. The FDA will take comments on the proposal for 90 days, and a final rule could take an additional year. Once it’s final, the agency has proposed giving industry two years to comply.