The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has proposed a change in the current nutrition facts label that appears on packaged foods. The new label would put calorie and serving size front and center, remove some confusing language, and differentiate between things like processed white flour and 100 percent whole wheat flour.

In addition to asking for a change in the label, the CSPI would like the Food and Drug Administration to “crack down on deceptive” and confusing claims made on food packaging. The FDA has already started the process of doing that. They went after front of package labeling and the Smart Choices program earlier this fall to some success.

The CSPI wants more done. Specifically they’d like to see some of the following.

nutrition label

  • Phrases like “strengthens your immune system” or “helps protect healthy joints!” eliminated from packaging.
  • Definitions for fiber or all natural tightened up. They are too loose right now.
  • The “0 grams of high fat!” claim removed from items that contain saturated fat.
  • A disclosure of how much whole grain is actually in a product that claims to be “made with whole grain.”
I like these suggestions. I like their re-done nutrition facts label, too. It’s much easier to read. It clearly separates the main ingredients in an item from the ingredients that comprise less than 2 percent of the product. At the very top, the percentage of the product that claims to be made from whole grains is clearly indicated. The print for calories is larger and it clearly says “calories in a serving.”

The picture at the right is a screen shot of the proposed label taken from a special report (link opens a PDF) that the CSPI has released. The report is very well done and clearly explains all of the changes they’d like to see. I urge you to click on the link and view the entire report.

I’ve said several times recently that consumers need to be more informed about the nutrition of their food and not rely on the hyped-up claims that the manufacturers make about food. Making over the nutrition facts label on food is a step in that direction. I hope that the FDA takes the CSPI’s nutrition label into consideration. They probably will make changes to it, but it looks like a great starting point to me.

What do you think?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Making over the nutrition facts label
A consumer advocacy group wants to make nutrition labels less confusing.