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Editorial: Updating labels long overdue

When it comes to a person’s attire, a new look can serve as a statement. The same can be said about the nutritional labels on packaged foods and drinks.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to update the information available on labels and how it is presented. This includes revising serving sizes to better reflect the way Americans eat or drink. Given that it has been roughly 20 years since the FDA overhauled the information, it’s long past time for such an effort, especially with the public becoming more conscious of what they’re eating and what’s included in the ingredients.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in joining FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to announce the proposal. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

Among the changes the FDA wants is to have the labels accurately reflect “added sugars” that are put into the product during the manufacturing process. It would take out the “calories from fat” line and instead provide total calories in a serving. To better understand the amounts of good fat versus bad fat, the breakdown on amounts of saturated and trans fats would remain.

The daily values for certain nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D would also be updated.

A better reflection of how much we eat makes sense, so taking outdated or unrealistic serving sizes off the list is critical.

The FDA now has a 90-day comment period followed by the establishment of the final recommendations that will take place over a two-year period.

All of these proposed changes make sense in keeping current on the various links between health and diet. Updated information is also critical in getting people to see what’s necessary for a healthy diet.

“To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans” Hamburg said.

While nutritional information alone won’t completely provide the answer for our national struggle with obesity, it is an important step in providing accurate information about what’s in particular foods and drinks. It’s about making informed choices and this update should help.

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