The White House and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday the new Nutrition Facts label. The regulation seeks to provide people more information about nutrients in food, such as added sugars. However, some scientists argue that the new label is “misleading and counterproductive.”
Changes come as part of the Let’s Move! Initiative, conceived by the First Lady Michelle Obama. Policies regarding food labeling have not dramatically changed over the last 20 years, said the White House in a press release issued Friday.
An estimated 77 percent of adults in the U.S. look at Nutrition Facts label when purchasing a product. Approximately 800,000 products in the country use food labeling. First Lady Michelle Obama said Friday that people will not longer “need a microscope” to decide if the food is healthy or not.
"You'll no longer need a microscope—to figure out whether the food—is actually good for your kids." —FLOTUS on the new #NutritionFacts label
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) May 20, 2016
“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide. This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices” said Michelle Obama on Friday.
Nutrition Facts label will now include added sugars
The FDA has considered various aspects to make the new changes, including consumer studies and “updated” data about nutrition. Added sugars in processed foods must be declared now. Calories per serving and servings per container will be now showed in a bigger size.
New measures also require manufacturers to update serving sizes, “to amounts that consumers actually eat,” said the White House. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. said that Americans trust Nutrition Facts labels, to better understand their nutrient consumption.
The updated label adds new information for “more informed choices,” so people can prevent risks of heart disease, and obesity, said Califf. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, sugar consumption in the U.S. is too elevated and should be reduced.
Some labels will include two columns, one to provide information per serving, and one to add information per package. Data about Vitamin D and potassium will also be incorporated while data about Vitamin A and C is no longer mandatory.
Manufacturers have a two-years timeline to apply the new changes. Producers that obtain less than $10 million in food sales per year will have an extra year.
Vitamin D & potassium added along w/ required calcium & iron on #NutritionFacts Label go https://t.co/RL1mFsVjgo pic.twitter.com/I0kPVms5YO
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) May 20, 2016
Some scientists say that new regulations lack ‘scientific rigor’
A group of researchers has sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, saying that including added sugars to labels may be “counterproductive.” They argue that recommendations are based on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, which were “not elaborated by sugar experts.”
“The FDA’s proposed rules lack both the scientific rigor based on careful consideration or evidence-based reviews,” scientists were quoted as saying by the Washington Free Beacon.
According to researchers, added sugars are not the only nutrient linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, said Elizabeth Harrington at the Washington Free Beacon.
BIG NEWS. @FLOTUS talks about the new and improved @US_FDA #NutritionFacts Label and what it means for you.https://t.co/F4cNDHwtqV
— HHS.gov (@HHSGov) May 22, 2016
Obesity and diabetes in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that high consumption of added sugars has been associated with obesity. An estimated 78.6 million adults in the U.S. are overweight. The risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes is increased by obesity, added the CDC.
By 2012, there were 29 million people with diabetes in the country, of which 8.1 million were undiagnosed, said the American Diabetes Association. An estimated 86 million people in the nation are pre-diabetic, which means they might be diabetic in the future if they do not change their lifestyle.
Facts Label highlights calories & servings. Info to help consumers make healthy food choices https://t.co/4wkYa7nfj0 pic.twitter.com/8xLO1KlmvB
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) May 20, 2016
Source: White House (Press Release)