Tag Archives: FDA

Nutrition Label Changes

Remember how over 2 years ago I told you how you could tell the FDA what you thought about changes to the food label? Well, I hope you did. If you did, maybe your voice counted.

Recently, the FDA announced what changes they will be making to the nutrition facts labels on your foods. The new labels will have to be in place by July 2018, which is quite awhile. But it is great to see some changes. Here’s the label:

New Nutrition Labels

What’s New (my highlights):

-Updates to the serving size. Not only is the font bigger, but the amounts should be changing. No longer will there be serving sizes on a cookie that are ¼ of a cookie. Serving sizes and nutrition facts must reflect amounts people actually eat. Hooray!

-Other items bolded or in larger font for ease of finding key information, like calories.

-Added sugars will now be on the label. I am very excited about this. Now you can know how much sugar is being added to foods that naturally have sugar in them, such as yogurt and fruit products.

-Vitamin D and Potassium will now be on the label rather than vitamin A and C. I am also a big fan of this change. Vitamin D and potassium are key nutrients for heart health, and those with kidney disease need to be acutely aware of their potassium intake. This will help.

This is a great change for food labeling. Hopefully, it helps us make better choices in the grocery stores. For more details on all the changes, visit fda.gov. Let me know your thoughts on the changes in the comments!

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Calorie Counts on Menu Boards

Most of us know it is difficult to watch your calorie intakes when you eat out. What seems healthy can often blow your calorie budget: salads that are 1000 calories or more, a chicken sandwich has the highest calorie count of any sandwich on the McDonald’s menu, etc.

In an effort to make health-conscious eating out more feasible, regulations have been in the works for years now to require restaurants with more than 20 locations to label their menus with calorie information. Seems great, right?

That took a slight setback recently. Recently, a bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives delaying the deadline for restaurants to have this information until May 2017. Bad news, right?

I actually have mixed feelings on this. Having spoken with some players involved in getting this information ready, it is more complicated than you might think. Easy examples are frozen yogurt shops or pizza places. Toppings will change the info for each pizza. That is a lot of information to try and fit onto menu boards.

I recently saw this solution at Chipotle:

Chipotle menu board

I’ll be honest. While I’m generally a fan of the menu labeling, this solution seems fairly unhelpful. A 500 calorie range with no specifics on what makes you at the bottom or top of that range is basically useless.

All in all, I think this is an important reminder that all regulations require a lot of nuance and to not be overly critical of either side. Each side has valid points.

What do you think of this regulation and it’s postponement? Let me know in the comments section!

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Calories on the Menu

The FDA issued rules last November that indicated would require most restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops to display nutritional information on their menu boards.  This has been a change that has been years in the making.  Many restaurants have feared this change.  The changes were supposed to be implemented by December 1, 2015.  In July, the FDA pushed back the deadline to December 1, 2016.

So will you see calorie counts on all menus?  No.  The rules only apply to establishments with 20 or more locations.  Your local diner or sandwich shop does not have to post anything.  Also, restaurants are allowed to post a calorie range for items with a lot of options.  For example, pizza places or ice cream shops that allow mix-ins.

Many restaurants already have the information posted, such as McDonalds.  Many consider the rules a big step in the right direction for the food industry.  They feel the accountability on the part of restaurants is important as well as the boon of information for consumers.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about it.  I do think it is important to be an informed consumer. However, I wonder how much that really changes our purchasing decisions.

I’d love to hear what you think.  Are you for, agains, or neutral on calorie information posted on menus at restaurants?  Let me know in the comments!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Food labels may be changing

The FDA recently proposed some changes to the food label that will affect all of us.  Here is a graphic comparing the old and new labels.


My thoughts on the new label:

-Calories in a bigger font:  improvement.  This helps people find what they are most likely looking for.

-Removing calories from fat:  improvement.  The type of fat is as important as the overall caloric impact of fat, as I discussed in my meat and cholesterol post.

-The addition of “added sugars”:  improvement.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, you shouldn’t compare the amount of sugar in two foods without looking at the source of that sugar.

-The addition of potassium:  improvement.  Diets high in potassium can help reduce high blood pressure, a growing health problem in the US.

– More realistic serving sizes: improvement. Remember the pink sugar cookie that was four servings per cookie? Exactly.  Now, serving sizes should more accurately reflect what people eat in one sitting, making the information on the label even easier to apply.

-Servings per container larger than serving size:  mixed emotions.  I find this useful for small food items that you might consume in one serving, such as individually wrapped bars or muffins.  But since they are trying to list more realistic serving sizes, this change may not be entirely necessary.  It will be interesting to see.

-Percent Daily Value on the right side rather than the left:  unhelpful.  I don’t find percent daily values to be a useful tool, so making this more “prominent” doesn’t make the label any easier to use.  Others may feel differently.

I’d love to hear your comments on the proposed changes – like them, hate them, better ideas.  Even better, the FDA is accepting public comments until June 2, 2014.  Click here to read more and here to submit your comment.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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