FDA drafts food label revisions

A proposal by the Food and Drug Administration drafted in February seeks to change the information given on nutrition labels. The proposed revisions to food labels would include a new design, more information about nutrition science and more realistic serving sizes.

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act allowed the FDA to make the labeling of nutritional values and ingredients on foods under its regulation required. Their purpose was to help Americans make healthier and more informed decisions about the foods they consume.

A common criticism about the information presented on nutrition labels revolves around the use of complex words and nutritional value measurements.

Isabel Zumaya, junior political science major, said she would prefer labels with more user-friendly terminology to clarify what exactly is in the food she eats.

“When they use those crazy, long words, they are gearing it more for people who actually know what they mean and not for consumers,” Zumaya said. “They should simplify it because not everyone majored in biology.”

Similar complaints have sparked a push for a revision of the current food labels. The last major change to the label was in 2006, when it became required to list trans-fat.

The redesign would make caloric intake and serving size more prominent on the label. Percent daily value would be positioned on the left-hand side of the design.

Macronutrients, such as fats, protein and carbohydrates, are necessary for metabolism, growth and bodily functions. The only macronutrients curently required on packaging are lipids and carbohydrates. The micronutrients, of which the body requires smaller amounts, include  vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

“To consume healthy food, two important things need to be paid attention to,” said Dr. Shasha Zheng, assistant professor of nutrition. “One is the lipid components. The second is sugar, especially simple sugars.”

More information about added sugars would be required under the proposal by the FDA. Daily values for nutrients such as vitamin D, dietary fiber and sodium would be updated. All labels would be mandated to report the amount of potassium and vitamin D.

Randy Song, sophomore nutrition and food sciences major, said making the food labels more reader-friendly will allow consumers to make better diet choices.

“Many times college students won’t bother to look at food labels,” Song said. “If the consumers are curious, they will take their time to Google what they’re buying and use it for future references about what they like or what they don’t like.”

Companies will have two years to make the changes once the FDA approves the change.

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