A few weeks ago, my daughter and I caved to impulse and bought a snack in the checkout line at the grocery store to share. As you can imagine, it wasn't the healthiest of treats, but I assumed that since the main food in the bag was pretzels, that it might be healthier than some of the other prepackage snacks. I looked quickly at the nutrition info and - feeling satisfied that calories and fat wouldn't kill us, particularly as we were sharing it - I threw the bag in the cart. It wasn't until after we had finished our snack that I took a closer look at the nutrition label, only to realize that the actual serving size for the product was less than one-third of the bag.
It took quite a bit of multiplication and division to figure out exactly how we did fare - and suffice to say it was much worse on the calories and fat scale than I thought when I originally scanned the package. The thing that really irritated me was that this wasn't one of those jumbo snack packages. It was the average size of something you would find in a vending machine. Yet the manufacturer was trying to claim that there were three servings in this tiny little bag?
This is exactly the kind of confusion that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to clear up with its new proposals to revamp food labels on packages so that serving sizes reflect the actual amount of a food that Americans are likely to eat. The new proposals represent the first real changes to food labeling since the federal government first started requiring labels in the early '90s.
If the FDA gets its way, the new nutrition labels will look similar to the one posted on the left. Notice that the calorie information is larger than it used to be. There is also a new line for "Added Sugars," which is likely to catch some grief from the food manufacturing industry. And most importantly, the information about serving sizes is not only easier to read, it will also hopefully reflect the actual amount eaten by Americans today.
What do you think about the new proposed labels? If you have an opinion, feel free share it. The FDA is accepting public comment on the new regulations for the next 90 days. Check out FDA.gov for more info.
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