U.S. Nutrition Labels Get a Makeover, But New Version Won't Be Seen for Years
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The Obama administration released its proposed revamp of nutrition labeling on food – the biggest change that the ubiquitous packaging has received in more than 20 years.
The biggest adjustments intended for guide shoppers toward healthier eating habits includes changes such as more prominent calorie counts and larger serving sizes that reflect what people really eat. Added sugars would also be listed for the first time.
“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 in a statement.
The labeling revamp has been in the works for 10 years, with the first lady acting as a key player in getting the proposal out of the FDA. But consumers will have to wait several more years until the labels actually go into use, as the FDA must go through a review process prior to implementing new packaging.
The administration estimates the relabeling could cost the industry $2 billion to implement, but will result in $20 billion to $30 billion in health-care savings and other benefits over 20 years.
More extreme changes, such as front-of-the-package labeling and color coded emphasis on added sugars or saturated fat, didn’t make it into the FDA proposal. However, some changes will remain controversial, such as reporting added sugar, with industry groups arguing that natural sugar and added sugar are chemically identical.