Food Label Revamp

In case you haven’t heard – our food labels are getting a makeover.  The proposed changes hit the news waves, and newspaper pages today, as they were unveiled by the FLOTUS today at the White House.  While a RD she is not- I for one am excited about these proposed changes!  The main things that will be changed/proposed changes:

1) The calories will be IN BOLD

2) The serving size will be simplified

3) There will now be a little line that distinguishes “added sugars”

new labels

Essnetially these labels are supposed to make it easier for consumers to decipher what they are ACUTALLY getting from an amount of food they are eating.

These labels will not take effect for another two years, so in that time there can still be some adjustments.

It seems the general consensus between grocery stores, the FDA, health professionals etc – is that this is a good thing OR rather a small step in the right direction.  But as always – there are two side to every story- according to the article I am specifically citing (I have read 2-3 different ones- they are all basically the same)- there is a fair amount of certainty that food manufacturers will not respond well to this.

The specific arguement in this article is that if food manufacturers are expected to list an entire soda, or bag of chips as the serving size (which will be quite damming for that product) they will begin to reduce the size of the product, and therefore food in smaller packages will be more expensive per ounce.

Forgive me if I don’t share in the plight of Coca Cola or Pepsico.


Also many consumers and health experts are still demanding more!

Many groups, and consumers are demanding that it be mandatory for products containing GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients are labeled.  I have it on good authority (I hate to be a rain cloud) – that this will likely not happen anytime soon, as it will cost food manufacturers LOTSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS of money.

While I am one of many who would love mandatory GMO labeling, I am choosing to look at this recent change through the eyes of an optimist.  I think this is a step in the right direction.

With that being said I think there are still a few things to consider

1) You still (as a consumer) need to understand how these food labels work- meaning there is still a need for RDs to educate individuals how to properly read/maneuver a food label

2) While the serving size has been “simplified” there is still some necessary math involved.  Meaning?

If a serving of a Coke is 20 oz and it contains 250 Calories, and you drink half of that Coke – you consumed 125 calories.  The reverse is also true – if you double the serving size you’re doubling every other number on the label.

3) You should still be aware that 4 oz = 1/2 cup, 2 Tbsp = 1 oz – I’m sorry but this is important no matter what is done to the labels

Bottom line- there is still a need for change to continue, hopefully the FDA will be a bit more flexible with modifying these labels (as the last time they were formally changed was in 1994, and trans fats were added in 2006), and still a need for consumers to have access to education on how to read labels (aka job security for yours truly).

I think this is important for keeping an important dialogue alive about our food supply as well.

What do you think about the new labels?

Do you think they will help you/help consumers make better choices?

The article cited was from the Wall Street Journal


    1. My understanding is that it is to show the difference between sugars that could naturally be found in an item (orange juice – there is fructose in OJ from the orange) but the added sugars are supposed to highlight if anything additional was added. That is my understanding. But any and all sugars and carb containing ingredients will all still be calculated into the Total Carbohydrate grams on the label.

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