Food label changes considered

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A lot has changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced in 1993 so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes making changes to both design and content of the food label. This is the first revision for the label since the FDA began requiring them.

The primary goal of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label is not to tell people what they should be eating, but to expand and highlight the information they most need when making food choices.
Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems. The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems.

Proposed changes include:
- Larger and bolder type on calories
- Listing added sugars
- Calories from fat will no longer be listed
- Amount per serving will have the actual serving size listed, such as "amount per cup"
- Update Daily Values for various nutrients used to calculate the Percent Daily Values (%DV) and will be shifted to the left of the label.
- The amounts of potassium and Vitamin D would be required on the label. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, especially among women and the elderly. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent hypertension.

The food industry will be given two years to comply after the publication of any final ruled governing the Nutrition Facts label.

Do people use the food label to help make decisions? A USDA study shows that people use the label. The study showed 42% of working-age adults between 29 and 68 looked at the labels most or all of the time when shopping. Older people did better; 57% of Americans older than 68 uses the food label when shopping. More people than ever now use the label. In 2007, 34% of working-age adults looked at the label, and 51% of Americans older than 68 used the label.

Contributed by: Betty Greer, Professor, Nutrition Specialist

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