Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia nutrition experts in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences say they are pleased with the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to update nutrition labels on food products.
The changes, including making calorie counts and serving sizes more prominent on labels, were announced Thursday at a White House event.
The FDA proposed the changes to reflect the latest scientific findings, such as the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease, according to a release.
Another proposed change would require information about the amount of added sugars in a product.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the proposed changes,” said Connie Crawley, an extension nutrition and health expert within the college. “I basically approve of all of them, especially updating the percent daily values that are based on 1968 recommended dietary allowances and listing added sugars.”
Another change would remove the “calories from fat” item on current labels. According to the FDA release, research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
“Leaving off calories from fat is probably a good idea,” Crawley said. “It was poorly understood, and now we are more interested in the quality of fat and not so much the quantity of fat.”
The nutritional facts label has been required on food packages for 20 years. It hasn’t changed significantly since 2006 when transfat information was included, according to the FDA.
“This is a huge positive for consumers,” said Kelly Pritchett, assistant professor for sports nutrition within the college’s foods and nutrition department. “These modifications are a direct reflection of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics evidence-based practice recommendations for healthful eating.”
While both Crawley and Pritchett stressed the public will benefit from additional education about the information found on food labels, such as the difference between “natural sugars” and “added sugars,” they agreed the proposed changes are a positive step.
The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.
First lady Michelle Obama announced the proposed changes at the White House on Feb. 27. She was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.
“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,” Obama said in a release. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
The FDA press release on the proposed changes can be found at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm.