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FDA Plans on Revising Nutrition Facts Label

Update Date: Jan 24, 2014 03:56 PM EST

The nutrition facts panel was created to inform people about what they are putting into their bodies. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it plans on revising and updating the nutrition facts label after two decades. According to the agency, knowledge on nutrition and health has improved significantly and the panel should reflect those improvements.

The FDA, which has been working on these revisions for about a decade, plans on changing several aspects of the label. First, the FDA wants calorie counts to be more prominent so that people can find and read them more easily. Second, the agency wants to include the percentage of added sugars so that people can see just how sweetened their foods and beverages are. Third, the agency wants products to inform consumers of the percentage of whole wheat that is used in the products. Currently, food items do not specify the amount of whole wheat used in the product. The product could have a very small amount of whole wheat, but still be able to use the label, whole wheat, which is misleading.

"The food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed. There was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated," commented FDA's depute commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor. Taylor was already with the agency in the 1990s when the labels were being created. "It's important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn't become a relic."

Despite the desire to update the labels, the FDA has yet to set a release date. The agency has, however, sent in the new labels to the White House. The new labels are long overdue. A recent study conducted by the Agriculture Department reported that 42 percent of working adults today read nutrition fact labels all the time or the majority of the time in 2009 to 2010. Just a few years before then, the percentage was 34. The growing trend suggests that if the labels were improved upon, they would become more effective in promoting healthy eating.

 "There's a feeling that nutrition labels haven't been as effective as they should be," says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported by the Washington Post. "When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren't intuitively familiar with."

Aside from the proposed changes, experts also suggested other changes that could make labels more effective. These experts recommend including processed and prepared ingredients, clearer measurements, such as teaspoon over grams and front package labeling.

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