Nutrition labels are getting a face-lift. If you are like most consumers, the content of your food, especially the nutrition information, is very important to you. Even when we know the foods we eat are unhealthy, we look for vitamins or trace minerals to justify the unhealthy choice in some way. We should be able to "pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it's good for your family," said Mrs. Obama in a statement. "So this is a big deal." Most of the changes will be in the design, and very little information will be added; some information is taken out.
Specific Changes to Labels
The first and most notable change is to the serving size. These are commonly unrealistic like a 20-ounce soda labeled as 2.5 servings. New rules will require manufacturers to post a more accurate representation of what the consumers will eat or drink in a serving. The number of servings will increase in font and be in bold. This will help consumers make a rational decision on how much of it they should consume. For example, the 20 ounce soda will now be a one ounce serving when distributed in that bottle.
Calories, also known as the food energy we acquire from food, will now be larger and in bold. It fill finally stand out. To people on diets this will be a relief, no more squinting to count calories. The section on Calories from fat will be removed.
Below Calories is the table summarizing fats and proteins. The biggest change will be to the columns. To the left will be the daily value (%DV) in percent (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). The one addition to this section is “added sugars.” Food manufacturers are skeptical as there is no way to distinguish between a real sugar and an added sugar in testing. Secondly, for those struggling with hypertension, sodium will be reduced by 100 mg to 2300 milligrams. It is a small change but it is a start. Below this table is the section on vitamins. Vitamin D and potassium will now get a spot on the list.
New York City Gets Tough on Trans Fat
Nutrition labels are important, but not as important as the ingredients they list. New York City has taken this to another level with their ban on trans-fat, and the nation has yet to catch up. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now requiring this ban at the Federal level. Trans-fats are partially hydrogenated oils. They are cheaper than saturated animal fats like butter and formed when liquid oil is treated with hydrogen gas and made solid. We thought that this would be a safer alternative, but as a nation with heart disease as the leading cause of death, we were dead wrong. They are popular in fried and baked goods and in margarine. While it was permissible to say zero trans-fat are present in a serving of food if it was less than a half a gram, a person could consume substantial amounts without even knowing it. McDonalds still practices this but it is taking measures to eliminate them entirely.
Former New York City mayor, and health-conscious guru, Michael Bloomberg, banned trans-fats in 2006 (and became fully implemented in 2008). It is 2014 and the rest of the nation is still using them. Restaurant owners and bakers in NYC said they had to change recipes because the alternatives did not behave the way the trans-fats did, but they made it work. Even Dunkin Donuts made the switch without telling consumers, no one noticed. The switch began with corporate responsibility. Restaurants in NYC recognized they were putting artery clogging and unhealthy additives in food and stopped before the official ban took place. The rest of the nation should follow suite and stop in response to the FDA’s disclosure.