FDA makes changes to food labels

by Larissa Backhaus

Food labels are about to change in order to better adjust to American society. 

According to USA Today’s Kim Palmer, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the FDA’s planned changes on Thursday, February 27. 

These labels will make calorie counts more obvious, serving sizes more accurate, and the added sugars more noticeable. 

This announcement was made in conjunction with the anniversary of Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. 

Food labels were last updated in the early 1990s when the American diet was not as widely speculated as it is today. 

There will be two versions of the FDA’s labels released for the public and manufacturers to comment on for 90 days. Then, the manufacturers will have two years to adjust their products’ labels to the standards of the new labels. 

Simpson Coordinator of Campus Health and Wellness Rita Audlehelm said as long as the new labels “make something simpler for people, you can’t go wrong with that.”

The major changes in the new labels include: 

  • calorie counts in large bolder prints than the othe facts
  • grams of added sugar will be shown
  • serving sizes will reflect more realistically the larger serving sizes that people eat based on studies
  • the labels will list vitamin D and potassium instead of vitamins A and C because of the concerns and deficiencies in today’s diets

Simpson Campus Nurse Katie Lee said, “they took out calories from fat because nobody really knew what that meat. You almost had to have a calculator and be a dietitian to really get some of those things.” 

In addition, foods and drinks that people usually consume all at once will be labeled as single servings, such as a 20-ounce bottles of pop. However, the FDA is not saying that people should eat and drink larger servings. Serving sizes on food packages are not the recommended portions. Also, the added sugar will show which sugar comes from the actual food and what sugar has been added as a sweetener.

“It is a step in the right direction. I think eventually I would like to see them adding a special area for natural ingredients, like Red 40,” Lee said. 

Many people are concerned whether the changes will actually lead more people to use the information on the label to control their diets. 

Audlehelm said, “there are always turn over problems when switching to a new label.”

Audlehelm, who was just on a spring break trip with a group of students, noticed many of her students reading the labels before consuming food. “I think a lot of people are label readers,” she said. 

Recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture did a study and found that 42 percents of working-age adults and 57 percent of older adults say they use the nutrition facts panel “always or most of the time.”

“It will even help non-label readers become label readers because they are really trying to simplify it,” Lee said. “It is going to make companies accountable because they have to reveal what other additional stuff they are putting in their products.”

The FDA said they hope that the labeling changes will motivate the food industry to recreate many products. 

“I don’t think it will make a big difference in the beginning, but I think it will take time. Overall, it will help,” Lee said. “It’s about education the consumer.”