If you’re trying to eat healthier, chances are you are quite familiar with the nutrition label on food products. The nutrition facts label has been required since 1991, as a result of the FDA’s Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. It has gone through several updates over the years, such as the 2004 allergen listing requirement and the 2006 trans fat addition. The FDA is considering another change to this iconic label to incorporate latest nutritional science, such as healthy fat intake. Here is what you should know about the proposed changes coming to your food nutrition label, and what you can do to eat healthier today.
- Requiring the declaration of ‘Added sugars’. Current labels are required to disclose sugar content, but the FDA wants to inform you about sugars added during processing. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend reducing these from your diet, and many health experts agree.
- Removing the requirement declaring ‘Calories from fat’. The FDA proposed to remove this outdated information. Its Fact Sheet states, “Current research shows that the total fat in the diet is less important than the type of fat.” In addition, consumer research shows this information, “has no effect on consumers’ ability to judge the healthfulness of a product.” The FDA would still require that the nutrition label list “Total Fat” and “Saturated Fat.”
What you can do today:
- Read labels for hidden trans fats. In June 2015, the FDA ruled to ban most partially hydrogenated oils – our primary source of trans fats – from the human food supply. This will be effective June 2018. In the meantime this unhealthy fat may still be in your favorite foods. The FDA included this suggestion in its Consumer Update: “Even if a food claims on its packaging to have “0 grams of trans fats”, it’s a good idea to look at the ingredient list on the label. Under current regulations, companies can make that claim if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. But if there is partially hydrogenated oil listed among the ingredients, the product will contain a small amount of trans fats. Selecting foods with even small amounts of trans fat can add up to a significant intake.” Many manufacturers have chosen to replace trans fat with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This healthy fat is naturally trans fat-free, and is socially and environmentally sustainable.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.