Obama Presidency

Nutrition Labels Are About to Get Real — Obama Admin Plans Big Changes

| by Allison Geller

The Obama administration announced that the nutrition labels on packaged food and drinks will be getting a makeover. The new look will highlight calories and added sugars, as well as make serving sizes more realistic.

New research has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to suggest the first major changes to nutrition labels since 1994. Calories will now be written in big, bold letters, and added sugars will be indicated for the first time.

Serving sizes will be changed to reflect what adults actually eat. For example, instead of nutrition facts written for half a cup of ice cream, new ones will reflect a serving size of a full cup. A whole 20-ounce bottle of soda will be considered one serving, instead of two or more.

"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," said first lady Michelle Obama. "So this is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country."

David Kessler, who was FDA commissioner in the early 1990s when the nutrition labels were first introduced, also expects a "demonstrative public health benefit” to come of the changes. He thinks that companies will be compelled to use less sugar in their products when the facts are no longer hidden.

"No food company wants products to look bad," he said.

The final design of the new label has not yet been decided. Two versions were offered on the FDA proposal: a shorter, clearer version of the current label and another that groups nutrition information into “quick facts,”  “avoid too much,” and “get enough” categories that would group how fat, carbs, sugars, proteins, and vitamins and minerals are presented.

Sources: CBS, NPR, Associated Press